On August 7, 2019, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), conducted a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The test’s purpose was to evaluate the readiness of EAS Participants—radio and television stations, cable television systems, direct broadcast satellite (DBS), Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS), digital audio broadcasting systems, and wireline video systems—to receive and retransmit the alert to other stations in the absence of Internet connectivity.
On May 12, 2020, the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) issued a report on the 2019 test. The report found that a large majority of EAS Participants successfully received the alert and retransmitted it to other participants. The test also revealed impediments to some EAS Participants’ ability to receive and/or retransmit the alert.
The 2019 EAS test also demonstrated:
- The broadcast-based distribution method is largely effective, with the capability to reach 82.5% of EAS Participants;
- Participation rates by EAS Participants have increased since last year;
- Success of the broadcast-based distribution system depends on the proper functioning of the initial stations in the chain; and
- Stations increase their chances of receiving and retransmitting the alert when they monitor multiple reliable monitoring sources, adding redundancy to the system.
The report offered insight on the functionality of the broadcast-based EAS distribution architecture and identified areas for improvement regarding technical and operational performance. The report noted steps that the PSHSB has taken since the 2018 nationwide EAS test and recommended steps to take in light the 2019 test results. Similarly, it recommended actions that EAS Participants can take to improve EAS reliability and reach.