Your Emergency Alert System (EAS) equipment may have stopped passing through tests received via the equipment’s Internet connection to the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) because one of the trust root certificates used to validate digital signatures associated with alerts expired a little over a week ago. If your EAS equipment is rejecting IPAWS alerts, here is what to do about it.
As we hope everyone knows, broadcasters and other kinds of mass media distributors are required to maintain operating EAS equipment that receives and transmits weekly and monthly EAS tests. Broadcasters are required to monitor both other broadcast stations over the air and IPAWS via the Internet.
Tests received via IPAWS come with digital signatures that must be validated before the EAS receiver will pass the test through for rebroadcast. Validation occurs by comparing the digital signature on the alert with a chain of certificates stored in the EAS device. One of the certificates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) expired on November 8, 2019. A replacement certificate was issued on October 28, 2019; but that certificate must be added to the database in your EAS receiver before the receiver will recognize it.
If you have not heard from your EAS manufacturer about updating the certificate database in your device, you should reach out now and get an update.
Sections 11.35(b) and (c) of the FCC’s Rules allow broadcasters to remain on the air despite malfunctioning EAS equipment for up to 60 days without FCC authority. The 60-day grace period is now in effect and will expire on January 7, 2020. If your EAS system has been updated by then and is fully functional, you need do nothing further.
If you have not completed an update by January 7, you should send an email to email@example.com that includes three elements: (1) a request for an extension of the 60-day deadline to repair or update your EAS receiver, (2) an explanation of what you have done and are doing to complete the update, and (3) the anticipated date by which you expect the update to be completed.
The FCC’s Rules normally require requests for extension of the 60-day repair deadline to be sent to the station’s relevant FCC Enforcement Bureau Regional Field Office. For this situation only, you should notify firstname.lastname@example.org and should not send notices to the Regional Field Office.
You can read the FCC’s Public Notice providing the guidance described above here.