The FCC Does the Right Thing

The Federal Communications Commission last week granted the cable industry its wish and moved the deadline for integration of the new Common Alerting Protocol into the Emergency Alerting System. D-Day has been pushed from the end of this month to next June 3...

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By Carl Weinschenk, Senior Editor

The Federal Communications Commission last week granted the cable industry its wish and moved the deadline for integration of the new Common Alerting Protocol into the Emergency Alerting System. D-Day has been pushed from the end of this month to next June 30.

The delay was made necessary in large part by a typically illogical bureaucratic situation: The deadline demanded fulfillment of requirements that were not yet set. Franz Kafka became one of the world's most famous novelists using this sort of premise.

The situation would have been mediated to an extent by the fact that at least some of the demands, whatever they turned out to be, could have been fulfilled through software and firmware downloads. But the situation still made little sense. To its credit, the FCC saw this and delayed the deadline.

The presumption is that all of the salient information will be available well in advance of the new deadline. The involvement of a government agency makes this anything but a certainty, however. Assuming it does happen, however, the onus is put back on cable operators to get their EAS-CAP houses in order. No longer will they be able to say that they can't make the proper moves because the information isn't available.

Cable operators, especially tier 2 and 3 players who run on a thinner edge than the biggest MSOs, need to understand that the EAS-CAP responsibilities still exist. June seems a long way off. Just ask any kid who went back to school this month. But it will come. Operators need to keep up to date with what is happening as the FCC goes through the regulatory process. They can do this directly, or through contacts with vendors such as Monroe and Trilithic.

This season of earthquakes, hurricanes, tropical storms and wildfires attests to the fact that this is serious business. Cable operators -- most of whose employees live in the communities they serve -- understand this and are as much in favor of a beefed up EAS-CAP structure as their neighbors. While it is regrettable that the delay is necessary, it is in the big picture an important part of the creation of a next-generation platform that will aid people in a fuller and more flexible manner.

Carl Weinschenk is the Senior Editor for Broadband Technology Report. Contact him at carl@broadbandtechreport.com.

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