Weekly Tech Reminders: EAS Test, FM Translators and More

An excerpt from this week’s Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes October 3, 2017

The following is excerpted from the Alabama Broadcasters Association’s weekly e-newsletter, Monday Morning Coffee and Technical Notes. Thanks to Larry Wilkins, who puts together the content and has shared it with Radio magazine readers. To subscribe to the newsletter, send an email to lwilkins@al-ba.com, and he will add you to the database.

A LOOK BACK AT THE NATIONAL EAS TEST

Unless you have been living under rock for the last few months, you know that FEMA conducted a National EAS Test last Wednesday at 1:20 p.m. (CT).

Early reports indicate that the test went very well across the country. There were a few scatter issues, mainly due to poor audio quality. Also the situation concerning the IPAWS server polling rate continues to be an issue.

Basically the IPAWS system utilizes a “pull protocol” which requires the EAS decoders to poll the server at some rate (typically 30 seconds) and pull the data down. As you can readily see, if a IPAWS message is issued right after your decoder polled the server, it would not poll again for approximately 30 seconds. During that time your decoder could possibly receive the message from one of your two Required RF sources. Depending of the received signal this could render a lower quality audio for your relay.

Major EAS equipment designers agree that speeding up the poll rate, or adding artificial delays on analog distribution networks won't completely solve the problem, and may mask, or cause, additional problems. The only true fix is for the local device to hold a legacy alert while it attempts to find a CAP version.

We are extremely please that the test went so well in Alabama. This is due in part by using our GSSNet Satellite network to deliver the alert around the state. This system uses a “push protocol” with multicast delivery therefore has no polling delay. The system aggregator gets a direct feed from IPAWS.

Plans are for the 2018 test to use only the Primary Entry Point network. According to releases from FEMA this is to test delivery by a different system should the national web suffer a massive failure.

FM TRANSLATORS FOR AM STATUS

The FCC is busy working through the applications that were filed during the window for AM stations to acquire an FM translator. There were a number of mutually-exclusive applications (applications which conflict with each other as they cannot both operate without creating prohibited interference).  These must be settled by both parties by Nov. 29.

GOOD NEWS FOR YOU “TWITTERS”

Twitter announced that it has started testing 280-character tweets, doubling the previous character limit, in an effort to help users be more expressive. “Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English,” the company said in a blog post. “When people don't have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting — which is awesome!” 

 

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