Last month we reported on the addition of three new event codes (those would be EWW, SSA and SSW) and two revised location codes to the laundry list of EAS-related codes to be used in the headers of emergency announcements. As we noted back then, the FCC’s original order didn’t seem to mention exactly when the new/revised codes would take effect. That question has now been answered: in a notice published in the Federal Register, the Commission has specified September 12, 2016 as the effective date.
EAS participants should feel free to mark their calendars accordingly, but they probably don’t really need to. That’s because the effective date of the new/revised codes doesn’t affect participants much at all for the time being. The FCC is not inclined to require participants to upgrade their existing gear immediamente to accommodate the new codes. So if you’re an EAS participant, you can modify your existing gear or not, as you wish. However, as of September 12, 2017, anybody replacing their current EAS equipment will have to install gear capable of receiving and transmitting the new codes. That is, whether the replacement gear is new or used, it will have to accommodate the new codes.
Meanwhile, EAS equipment manufacturers will have to “integrate these codes into equipment yet to be manufactured or sold, and make necessary software upgrades available to EAS Participants no later than six months from the effective date of the rule amendments.” We calculate that date to be March 12, 2017, but we’re guessing that the FCC will issue a more formal announcement as the deadline approaches.
And while it’s probably unnecessary to mention this – after all, the proposal to adopt the code changes received near universal support – we’ll mention it anyway. The publication of the FCC’s order in the Federal Register also establishes the deadlines for seeking reconsideration (September 12, 2016) or judicial review (October 10, 2016) of the order.