FAQ for Broadcast Engineers, Consultants, Attorneys and Regulatory Advocates

15 June 2022

What classes of service are being offered?

For full-service, we will not be using the FM zones.  All parts of the FCC jurisdiction will be considered "Zone 2" in this spectrum.  We will offer classes A (6 kW @ 100m HAAT), C3 (25 kW @ 100m HAAT) and C2 (50 kW @ 150m HAAT).  For LPFM, we will offer the existing LP-100 (0.1 kW @ 30m HAAT), our proposed LP-250 service (0.25 kW @ 30m HAAT) and propose a new LP-250 PLUS (0.25 kW @ 107m HAAT).  The latter will only be available west of the Mississippi River except in California south of 40 degrees latitude.   FM translators will be available on specific channels allocated for secondary use and we propose to follow the same engineering model for FM translators as we do for LPFM stations. 

Why no 100,000 watt stations?

We are specifically not proposing Class C1, C0 and C stations.  The existing reserved band has an abundance of stations in these classes and the new band needs to be focused at this time on localized content by established local organizations.  The ability to have 100 kW FM stations would not meet those localism and diversity needs.  Since we are not proposing any ERP of over 50 kW, we see no need to have the separate zones to keep the 100 kW stations out of certain regions of the country.  This will also make obtaining an LPFM station easier. 

Why only 20 reserved channels for full-service use?

This will double the size of the current reserved band in a large majority of the country.  We are setting aside channels on the edges of the band to serve is guard band between the two TV channels, to prevent any unlikely FM issues to non-broadcast services below 76 MHz, to promote localism and diversity by reserving channels for LPFM use and promoting innovations and public safety by setting aside two channels in each band for extremely low power FM operations that can be used on a temporary basis for special events with a large expected turnout of attendees.   We are also not putting full service in both the Channel 5 and Channel 6 bands at the same location in order to prevent as many LPTV displacements as we can and to keep the spectrum secondary for innovations such as event broadcasting and single frequency networks. 

How does a radio station protect a TV station and vice versa?

FM facilities on 76.1~81.9 will protect Channel 5 TV stations and FM facilities on 82.1~87.9 will protect Channel 6 TV stations.  Radio will use a 26 dBu F(50,10) interfering contour to protect a TV station's 28 dBu F(50,90) noise limited contour.  For Canadian TV stations, radio will use a 20.8 dBu F(50,10) interfering contour to protect the TV station's 28 dBu F(50,90) noise limited contour.  This is consistent with the existing international agreement between the US and Canada regarding analog to digital protections.  TV stations will use their 26 dBu F(50,10) interfering contour to protect the FM station's 60 dBu F(50,50) contour.  Primary FM stations will only need to protect primary full-service and Class A TV stations.  Secondary FM stations (LPFM, translators, ELP) will need to protect both primary and secondary (LPTV, TV Translator and DRT) TV facilities. Full-service and Class A TV stations will only need to protect full-service FM stations.  Secondary TV stations will need to protect all FM facilities, primary and secondary.  The "adjacent channel" Channel 6 protections from FM facilities on 88.1~91.9 are proposed to be eliminated, nor would FM stations in the new band have to protect TV stations in the band of the other TV channel (example: an LPFM station operating on 81.7 does not need to provide any protections to Channel 6 and an ELP facility on 82.1 does not need to provide protections to Channel 5). 

What is ELP?

REC is looking at the potential for a new "Extremely Low Power" (ELP) FM broadcast service.  ELP operations are intended to be temporary (normally for a period of 2 weeks or less) and are intended for use for special events that plan to attract a minimum number of people in attendance.  ELP would be able to provide entertainment, information and public safety information to those in attendance of the event.  We anticipate ELP stations to operate both inside of stadiums and convention centers as well as outside locations such as outdoor stadiums and open air areas such as music festivals.  We are looking at an ERP of no more than 5 or 10 watts for these temporary facilities and they would be sub-secondary to other secondary services such as translators and LPFMs.  We are proposing to set aside 76.1, 76.3, 82.1 and 82.3 for ELP operation, but will, based on need make other channels available including the 77.1~80.9 or 83.1~86.9 segments if that segment is not being used for full-service FM stations.  ELP would allow for multiple transmitters on the same or multiple channels based on expressed need.  ELP addresses the many inquiries that REC has received over the years for special event broadcasting as well as may be a substitute for the experimental authorities given for such services using TV spectrum.  

Single Frequency Networks?  Is this the same as Zone-Casting?

REC's proposal looks at the concept of low power single frequency networks (SFN).  These are stations that use directional antennas in order to achieve a specific service area to broadcast the same station.  Unlike FM Boosters, this does not mean there is a primary station and the additional stations act as gap fillers, but instead are synchronized transmitters.  SFNs on FM are currently being used by community FM radio stations in Japan and for highway information stations in France.  We can see an SFN application where a LPFM station wishes to serve two nearby areas that may be separated by distance and/or terrain.  Our proposed concept would require all transmitters within an SFN to be located within a certain distance of all other transmitters within the SFN.  SFN operation could only be permitted where we have surplus spectrum, such as in areas that are outside of both Channel 5 and Channel 6 exclusion zones and only on select channels within the secondary band.  Again, this is just concept only and not necessarily a formal proposal.  Under our concept for SFN, all transmitters within the network must simultaneously rebroadcast the same programming with no "opt outs" for programming specific to one or more nodes on the network.  Therefore, it would not be like the Zone-Casting proposal. 

Are LPFM, FM Translator and FM Booster stations in the 76~88 MHz spectrum subject to the Local Community Radio Act?

Yes.  The LCRA does not contain any specific language that limits stations to the 88~108 MHz band.