Government Preps for First Nationwide Wireless Alert Test

The FCC and FEMA will conduct the first-ever nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system Oct. 3, an add-on to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) for TV and radio, which will get its fourth test the same day.

Wireless alerts will be sent to cell phones at 2:18, with the EAS alerts to TV and radio outlets at 2:20.

The alerts will be sent using FEMA's internet-based IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System).

The test was rescheduled from Sept. 20 due to Hurricane Florence.

The alerts are meant for national emergencies--real nuclear strikes, earthquakes, etc.--will be issued under the header "Presidential Alert," and are the only kind of alert that FEMA can send out simultaneously and nationwide. It will clearly say "THIS IS A TEST. No Action Needed," according to FEMA.

Media outlets participating in the EAS portion of the test include broadcast radio and TV, satellite radio and TV, cable systems and wireline video providers.

The alerts will be in both English and Spanish.

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.