If you’ve seen the television public service announcement of the coming November 9th communications shutdown, you know the loud voices of concern around the country have been heard by the Obama administration. According to this FEMA blog (June 9, 2011), the shutdown will include television stations (including digital television, cable, satellite audio and television services) and broadcast radio stations across the U.S. and some territories. They will all be down at the same time. This is the first time in our history that the Nation has lost all communication from these sources at the same time. The purpose is to test the reliability of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). This FCC bulletin says “Only the President determines when the EAS will be activated at the national level…” You will hear that the test will last for three minutes but the State of Maine’s Homeland Security website says the government has reduced the test to 30 seconds. See two videos below.
This FEMA bulletin dated November 3, 2011 seems to broaden the scope of the test:
EAS Participants provide a critical public service to the nation as the resilient backbone of alert and warning when all other means of communication are unavailable. EAS Participants include all broadcasters, satellite and digital radio and television, cable television and wireline video providers who ensure the system is at a constant state of readiness.
I have just talked to AT&T and they assure me that cell phone and Internet will not be included in the test, and I think landline phones will not be shutdown. The “wireline” could refer to “data” but AT&T assures me my cell and texting services will be up and running.
The national Emergency Alert System (EAS) is different from your state’s individual EAS. The national system is designed to allow ONLY the President to address all 50 states, and some territories, at the same time, in the event of an emergency. (I have full confidence we will never hear “pass the jobs bill now,” on the EAS, but who knows.)
The first video below shows how we have grabbed the attention of the agencies. They want YOU to pass on the message to friends, co-workers and family, that the loss of service is simply a test – DON’T PANIC!. The second video describes what you will see and hear on your television while the test is in process. Note that in some areas, you will NOT hear or read that the alert is simply a test.
Don’t Panic! It’s Just a Test (video)
What You Will See and Hear While the EAS Test is in Process (video)