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FCC Signals First Wireless Alert Test Was Success

In the first end-to-end nationwide test of delivering wireless emergency alerts (WEAs) to cell phones, the FCC said the alerts were "an effective alerting tool to rapidly disseminate emergency information to the public."

That conclusion, in a report on the test released Monday (April 8), was based on survey data from various sources as well as news reports. The FCC did say there were still issues with "ensuring more consistent delivery, reducing duplicate messages, and resolving issues concerning alert message audio tone and vibration cadence."

The FCC tested both the wireless and traditional broadcast-disseminated (Emergency Alert System) alerts on Oct. 3, 2018.

Related: OTI to FCC: Broadcasters Should Not Get Extra Channels

The FCC said the test showed that the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) update to EAS delivered "high-quality, effective, and accessible EAS alerts, and that EAS participants’ results are comparable to 2017 performance levels, with continued improvement in several areas."

IPAWS is the system that integrates both the EAS and WEAs alerts.

The report was released at about the same time National Association of Broadcasters president Gordon Smith, at the annual NAB Show in Las Vegas, was pointing out the value of his members as first informers during emergencies and calling for device manufacturers to put TV receiving chips in smart devices.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.