Posts Categorised: Deep Dig

When it comes to the C-band debate, he urges commission to remember how much
broadcasters are doing with limited resources

The author is a consulting engineer in Kensett, Iowa. In the context of the ongoing C-band debate, Schacht urges the commissioners to remember how much broadcasters are doing with limited resources. 

Once when I was in 8th grade, which was about two months before rocks were formed, I sat in geography class and as usual was paying no attention to where Egypt or Mesopotamia were located.

Instead, I was drawing out a schematic of the Class B modulator with a pair of 6L6s that I wanted to build for my 40-meter CW rig. Out of a clear blue sky, I heard my name and looked up. The teacher was looking at me with a quizzical expression. It was obvious he had asked me a question. Of course, it had nothing to do with 807s or 6L6s, so I had no idea what would be a good answer.

After a long, sweaty pause, he finally broke the silence with this little gem: “Mr. Schacht, it’s about time you wake up and smell the coffee.”

That line is again applicable today, concerning the FCC and the C-band debacle.

It seems to me that the agency that licenses and controls all of the radio spectrum would vaguely know what everyone else in the communications industry knows: C-band satellite transmission is the lifeblood of television, radio, CATV and a great deal of data transmissions.

Rather than the commission ask every broadcast station and CATV system to register their antenna (of course, for commercial purposes at an unnecessarily high fee!), the commission should require CATV, radio and television that don’t use C-band downlinks to register! There probably are very few, with the exception of LPFMs (I take care of a big 100-watter that does have a C-band downlink).

The C-band downlink is the lifeblood of every CATV system, so I am sure the commission knows where every one of them is. Why can’t the commission just accept the fact that nearly every broadcast station — TV, radio, commercial and non-com — is using C-band downlinks?

Now, on to the frequency allocation. Take a look at the RF spectrum as is currently allocated by the FCC. (If you’re unfamiliar, you can find it in most radio books and all over the internet.) How much spectrum does “radiolocation” need? Yes, this is radar and the like, but I really think what is listed as “radiolocation” is either unoccupied or being saved for government use. Why not share some of that underused spectrum? There’s a whole bunch of it around 3GHz among other places.

Why do we, the broadcasters, have to keeping making concessions for the cellular and broadband people? Other than because money talks, and they have lots of it.

Do you know why the cellular people and broadband people have so much money to bully the FCC around, and the broadcasters and CATV people have so little? That’s because while we certainly are in the business of making money, we are also community servants.


Right now, as I write this, we are under a tornado warning and severe storm warning in Iowa. The local radio stations are tracking the storms and I am listening to live coverage. All they are doing is using their licensed facilities to keep people safe and save lives.

The cellular people do none of that; they just rake in money to provide a telephone and an internet service that works “some of the time.”

Sure, they send out alerts. I have two cellular phones from different carriers. I hear severe weather alerts on local radio or television as NOAA trips the EAS system. Anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes later, it might trip one or both of my cell phones. By then, the storm has passe,, or I was sucked up in the tornado I didn’t know about, or the Amber Alert missing child is now three states away.

No, neither the cell phones nor the internet even comes close to what the broadcasters provide in their communities. Unlike the cell companies or the broadband providers, the broadcasters will do whatever is necessary to keep the public informed in an emergency: stations operating from their transmitter sites when the studio was leveled by a tornado, AMers stringing up long wires when their tower is toppled. Local radio and television will be there when the public needs them.


Have you ever tried to use the internet or cell service for a program link? Yes, both radio and television do, but it ain’t no match for the reliability or quality you get from a satellite. A few of the stations that I deal with have given up carrying some college football teams because the provider went off the bird and onto the internet, and it just isn’t reliable.

Yes, the internet and cell phones are nice, but as toys. If I need to make an important call, I’ll always go to a landline; it sounds good and I won’t lose the call. Maybe, rather than give the cell and broadband more spectrum, the commission should require that they make what they have work and not keep reducing the sample rate of the calls to make more money by squeezing more calls onto each RF carrier.

So, to the FCC: Maybe you should look at less used spectrum for the broadband people, or take it away from somewhere else.

You have taken our TV ENG channels, our over-the-air TV channels, you have had your eyes set on our UHF RPU frequencies and now on our major source of programming outside the studio, the C-band.

We are doing our damned best to serve the people of our communities, over the air, commercial or non-commercial, in spite of the big money trying to make us stop watching free TV or listen to free radio and services that keep us safe.

I think it’s time for the FCC to wake up and smell the coffee!

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Proposes to create a second regime of protection for full-service FM, Class D, FM translators, FM boosters and other LPFM stations

WASHINGTON — REC Networks filed a Petition for Rulemaking with the FCC calling for changes in how LPFM stations are required to protect FM translators. There’s a lot to digest here, and for those interested in LPFM and its impact on others, it’s worth a deeper read here .

In the June 13 filing (RM-11810), REC’s Michelle Bradley writes that the petition addresses “various issues that had been precluding a more successful deployment of Low Power FM stations, especially in suburban and core urban areas.”

Specifically, “REC proposes to create a §73.815 Regime of protection for protecting full-service FM, Class D, FM translators, FM boosters and other LPFM stations which is available to LPFM stations that specify locations that do not meet the current distance separation requirements of §73.807.”

According to a summary on REC’s website, “Due to the way the LCRA was worded, REC is making a case that a table of lower distances, originally intended for 10 watt LPFM stations was codified in the rules when the LCRA was enacted and that the Commission can use those numbers.” Bradley also notes that many of the suggestions were previously was raised in the 2017 Media Modernization proceeding (MB Docket 17-105).

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between the current and proposed second regimes:

Current Regime (§73.807)

  • 50 to 100 watts at 30 meters HAAT. (up to a 5.6 km service contour)
  • Protects full-service stations using specific distance separations.
  • Protects FM translators and LPFM stations using specific distance separations.
  • Because of distance separation, any interference to other facilities is non-actionable. Full-service stations that file subsequent applications can only legally displace an LPFM station if there is LPFM interfering contour overlap in the city grade contour of city of license of the modified full-service station.

Second Regime (§73.815)

  • 50 to 250 watts at 30 meters HAAT. (up to a 7.1 km service contour)
  • Protects full-service stations by contours but must also meet a distance separation using reduced requirements from §73.807.
  • Protects FM translators and LPFM stations using contours.
  • Because of using contours, any interference to or from other facilities is actionable and will be handled through similar rules used by FM translators.
  • Second (§73.815) Regime applies only if the LPFM creates a new or increased §73.807 short-spacing of full-service or translators or if the LPFM wishes to operate with a faciliy that exceeds 100 watts at 30m HAAT (maximum 250 watts at 30m HAAT).

Additionally, the petition sugggests a variety of changes that reflect what they consider to be the “maturity” of the LPFM service, and also “allows LPFM stations more options for changes and presents them in a manner that is respectful to Commission policy and decorum and does not put the grant of any existing cross-service FM translator license at risk.”

In the petition’s conclusion, Bradley urges the commission to “adopt this rulemaking and help move LPFM forward to the next generation in a manner that strikes a balance between community need and crowded spectrum while respecting the status quo.”

Read the full petition online here.

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Filers have expressed concern about difficulties of prepping info for filing

WASHINGTON — To gather more accurate information about existing earth stations and to better determine if access to the 3.7–4.2 GHz band should be expanded, the Federal Communications Commission is giving fixed-satellite service earth stations more time to detail their current usage of C Band spectrum.

Back in April of this year, four FCC bureaus issued a Public Notice announcing a temporary freeze on the filing of new or modification applications for FSS earth station licenses, FSS receive-only earth station registrations and fixed microwave licenses in the 3.7–4.2 GHz frequency band. This was done to give the FCC an accurate snapshot of the C Band landscape. The commission is looking into the feasibility of permitting terrestrial broadband use within this band and will consider an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on this issue at its July Open Meeting.

Since the beginning of the freeze, however, many parties have shared their concerns with the FCC about the volume of unregistered earth stations and the difficulties that many of these operators may be facing in preparing information for filing.

These parties indicate that without some relief, many operators will be unable to satisfy the filing deadline and the commission will be without accurate information for its deliberations in the midband proceeding,” the FCC said in a public notice released June 21 .

As a result, the International Bureau has extended the 90-day filing date for an additional 90 days — until October 17 — in order to provide operators with more time to file applications. Keep in mind that only earth stations constructed and operational as of April 19, are eligible for filing during this window.

That original 90-day filing window was due to expire on July 18.The FCC also waived the coordination report requirement for the duration of the freeze and clarified that applications to register multiple FSS antennas in this band (those located at the same location) may be filed by using a single registration form and paying a single fee. The bureau also announced that those who are registering a large number of geographically diverse earth stations can submit a single network license to ease issues with batch filing.

The National Association of Broadcasters has been vocal in expressing its concerns about sharing C Band spectrum with wireless operators. In a filing submitted earlier this month, the NAB urged the commission to require proponents of expanded use to submit specific and detailed technical proposals to the commission. “That is the only way to allow stakeholders to provide informed comments and analysis to guide the commission’s decision-making process,” the NAB said.

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Just how cheaply can you operate a radio station?

Radio Birdsong “broadcasts” live from a moving vehicle

Quentin Howard is a man with a mission: To work out if he can run a fully-featured radio station on hardware that costs less than $99.

Quentin, who was chief engineer for the UK’s national Classic FM and instrumental in the UK’s adoption of DAB Digital Radio, is running his own radio station as a bit of fun — deliberately using cheap hardware.

“I wanted to run a fully-functional radio station — with a completely automated music schedule, station IDs, encoding and streaming, and pulling in external audio sources. I wanted it broadcasting the time signal at the top of the hour; and for me to be able to broadcast live if I wanted to,” he said.

The system that does this? A £70 (US$94) tablet computer, running Windows 10. The challenge that Quentin has set himself is to ensure that the system runs reliably, and the touch software remains responsive and usable on a 7-inch screen.

A cheap SD player

Keen to experiment, Quentin is testing this using a classical music format. 

“Classical titles are more complicated to music schedule — extreme durations, multiple artists, composers, different versions of same piece, segues in different keys, screeching sopranos, non-English alphabets — so it’s a good stress test of music rotation and playout, which is really what this is all about. If it can do all this well, any pop/rock format station is a doddle!”, he says.

“Announcer breaks are done on my mobile phone, uploaded to Dropbox from anywhere and played out a few minutes later which is, in effect, a one man live-assist OB.”

Playout is handled by PlayIt , a low-cost suite of radio software produced in Cambridge, England. 

“I’ve watched this product evolve over the last few years and I’m still impressed. It’s very stable and resource light. Standard playout software is free (non professional use), voice tracking and more sophisticated networked systems cost literally a few pounds. There’s lots of low cost playout systems of course — I’ve tested over 60! — but I rate this one highly.”

The station, which Quentin has christened “Radio Birdsong,” is streaming live on the internet. “You could hook this up to a £28 (US$37) FM transmitter, and have a fully-functional radio station for less than $140 — no larger than a hardback book,” he adds.

Elsewhere, low-cost radio solutions are already on the air. Ash Elford, manager of the small-scale Portsmouth DAB multiplex in the south of England used a small SD card player — costing less than $5 — to air one simple radio station for three months. The service, Sleepyhead Radio, was a set of looping programs for babies and their parents. The SD card player was purchased on eBay; the micro SD card was “just lying around,” he told me.

Ash also ran a set of automated radio stations called Weather 24/7, which broadcasts the weather forecast on DAB multiplexes in parts of the UK, using reconditioned laptops.

At the other side of the world in Australia, radio technologist Anthony Eden has recently compiled a collection of over 20 pieces of free broadcast software .

From studio clocks, to silence detectors, DAB encoders or playout systems, there are a lot of freely-available pieces of software to assist radio stations. Anthony’s list includes many open-source projects, which enable individual radio stations to add more features to the software or integrate it into existing services.

Meanwhile, Quentin Howard continues to experiment with his service: taking his entire radio station mobile. “I used a Bluetooth data connection to a mobile phone, and was able to stream the station uninterrupted from a moving vehicle,” he said.

“One application I’m developing it for is disaster emergency broadcasting. Pre-programmed FM radio in a tiny box, ready to go and cheap enough to throw away.”

“You could do all this on an Intel core i7,” he adds. “But where would be the fun in that?”

James Cridland reports on international radio trends from Brisbane QLD, Australia.

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The Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act provides additional tools to the FCC to address illegal radio operations

WASHINGTON — The PIRATE Act is one step closer to becoming law.

On June 13, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology unanimously voted to pass the PIRATE Act, otherwise known as the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act, which provides additional tools to the Federal Communications Commission to address illegal pirate radio operations.

FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly applauded the move, which sends a “clear message that pirate radio ‘stations’ must be eliminated,” he said. “This bill rightfully increases the penalties, requires regular enforcement sweeps, and augments the tools available to the commission to stop illegal pirate broadcasters.

“Today’s mark-up is an important step forward in ensuring the PIRATE Act becomes law and I look forward to seeing the bill take the next step in the legislative process,” O’Rielly continued. 

The decision was also supported by the National Association of Broadcasters, who saluted co-authors Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) and Rep. Mike Tonko (D-N.Y.) for their bipartisan sponsorship of the legislation.

“The bipartisan legislation will increase the ability of the FCC to crack down on pirate activity by increasing fines, streamlining enforcement and placing liability those who facilitate illegal radio broadcasts,” said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton.

The bill now heads to the Energy and Commerce committee for consideration.

As reported in Radio World, the PIRATE Act proposes to hike the fine for violations to as much as $100,000 per day, with a maximum fine of $2 million. The rules currently allow the FCC to impose a maximum daily penalty of about $19,200 per day.

The bill has been endorsed by several groups including the New Jersey Broadcasters Association and New York State Broadcasters Association, with association President David Donovan telling lawmakers at a subcommittee hearing earlier this year that illegal operators are undermining the nation’s Emergency Alert System, causing invasive and insidious interference, posing potential public health problems due to overexposure to radio frequency radiation, and interfering with airport communications.

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He says 48 dBµ would be a more appropriate value than 54 dBµ

WASHINGTON — In comments to the FCC, Crawford Broadcasting Director of Engineering W. Cris Alexander argued that the broadcaster “has interests on both sides of the FM translator interference issue” — meaning that the company and its affiliates currently are licensees of 15 AM and nine FM commercial stations plus nine FM translators. This, Crawford says, means they have a “unique perspective on the issue and perhaps a more balanced view.”

In light of that, Alexander submitted comments on behalf of Crawford regarding the proposed amendment of Part 74 of the Commission’s Rules Regarding FM Translator Interference (MB Docket No. 18-119). He expressed support for the commission’s reform efforts and offered additional suggestions. (Cris Alexander also is a contributor to Radio World, which was not involved in the filing.)

[Read about the commissioners’ opinions on the proposed changes.]

First, Alexander, writes: “We believe that the provisions of §74.1203(a) and §74.1204(f) should be harmonized so that predicted interference to existing listeners outside the translator 60 dBµ contour can be addressed prior to grant of the translator application. What constitutes ‘interference’ is well defined in the FCC’s rules by means of codified protection ratios, and we believe these ratios should be applied to predicted interference cases prior to grant of a legitimately-objected translator application.”

He notes that this is advantageous because it would help to prevent “drawn-out and often expensive interference complaint prosecution” by eliminating cases in which “a proposed translator will ‘pass the test’ provided by §74.1204(f) because there is no predicted interference to existing full-power station listeners within the translator 60 dBµ contour, but after operation commences, existing listeners located outside the translator 60 dBµ contour begin receiving interference.”

Additionally, this is important, Alexander says, because ofen “the damage is done in fairly short order after the translator signs on — those existing listeners displaced by the translator interference often tune elsewhere and may not ever return.”

Alexander also supports “the proposed modification of Section 74.1233(a)(1) of the Rules to define an FM translator’s change to any available channel as a minor change as a means of mitigating legitimate interference to an existing full-power broadcast station.” This is consistent with the idea that it’s important to offer “fast and complete resolution of interference issues.”

He also concurs that six is a good minimum number of listener complaints to be used to claim translator interference, saying that a “station bringing this many complaints undoubtedly has a real interference issue.”

Regarding the complaints themselves, Alexander agrees that listener complaints should include sufficient information “for the translator licensee to follow up… determine the listener’s exact location, and make measurements and tests at that location.” He notes that this would also ensure that the complainant is not affiliated with the full-power station.

In fact, Alexander writes that it would be bettter to remove the middleman — the complaining listener — from the process as soon as possible because complaining listeners “ may be uncooperative,” hard to contact or could even be bribed to withdraw their complaint.

Instead, he suggests, the resolution should be determined through “a technical showing that all interference has been eliminated.” Specifically, he writes, “any showing by the translator licensee should include a U/D study based upon the F(50, 50) and F(50, 10) field strength charts contained in Section 73.333, unless the use of the Longley-Rice propagation model is indicated based upon established criteria.”

Also, Alexander argues “there should be a full-power station field strength value beyond which no complaint of actual or predicted interference will be considered actionable.” However, he says that they do not “believe that 54 dBµ is the appropriate value for this cutoff field strength.” Rather, Crawford says, “a better compromise would be 48 dBµ, which represents an electric field strength value of 250 µV/m. We believe this value to be appropriate for all classes of FM stations and do not recommend that a different value be adopted for class B or B1 stations.”

He explains that a recent listener survey indicated that “92% of the respondents regularly listen in areas beyond the 54 dBµ contour and with predicted field strengths well below that value;” and he said the same is likely the case for class B1 stations which are protected to 57 dBµ, “it is likely that there are listeners to even lower field strength signals than to those with a 60 dBµ protected contour.” He cited also cited a 1975 study and report that indicated there was “some argument for a value of 47 dBu” field strength as a cutoff for interference complaints.

Read his comments online here. Comments on MB Docket No. 18-119 are due July 6 and reply comments are due Aug. 6. 

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UK broadcast engineer offers some insights into her career and the broadcast sector

If you are new to the industry or know a budding audio professional who’s looking for a specific direction, broadcast engineer and radio producer Ann Charles has only good things to say about the broadcast engineering sector. The skills you already have in sound might open up a whole new professional path, and “no — it’s not like being a sound engineer,” as she explains…

Broadcast engineering is one of the most creative and flexible jobs in the audio industry — and yet there is a shortage of people taking up the role.Broadcast engineers work in radio or television. They are responsible for the whole transmission chain — making sure that programs are able to be produced in a studio, and then sent to viewers and listeners around the world via transmission networks.

If you are one of the 90% of people who have enjoyed listening to a radio program in the last week, you can be sure that a broadcast engineer was involved at some stage of the process.


Let’s clear up one confusion: in the context of the radio industry, broadcast engineers and sound engineers do not have the same role, although there are overlaps.

Broadcast engineers have a deep knowledge of TV and radio, sound and electronics. They maintain equipment, plan for large events, troubleshoot when things go wrong and ensure the radio/TV network is future-proofed by advising on the station’s technical upgrade plan.

Sound engineers focus purely on producing sound in a studio, and perhaps developing advanced audio-editing skills such as mixing bands or creating imaging for station jingles and promos.

Most broadcast engineers are able to mix live sound but they are also responsible for ensuring the broadcast makes it to air and planning for how the signals will be sent to the listener. In addition, they may be in charge of large equipment and project budgets. Because of this huge responsibility, senior engineers will often be on a station’s management team.

The good news is that if you are already interested in sound, you have some of the essential skills needed for this career already.


All broadcast engineers need to understand how signals get from a microphone through the studio infrastructure and out to the transmission network. If you are used to following signal flow on a sound desk, it’s a similar idea — just scale it up. However, engineers tend to develop their own areas of expertise, too.

In the UK, engineers usually specialize in either working for radio stations, or for transmission providers.If you like being in a live studio environment, enjoy working to tight deadlines and can solve problems under pressure, then station work might be for you.

Alternatively, if you have a head for heights, enjoy working in all weathers and have a strong bladder (essential if you are climbing up a tall mast), then maintaining transmitters and towers may be more you thing. Curiosity is useful, either way.


It’s also possible to specialize further still. Perhaps you enjoy playing with the latest gadgets and are the kind of person who runs the beta version of software on your laptop for kicks? If so, then there are broadcast engineers who specialize in R&D (research and development) — ensuring that audio has a place on devices that haven’t been invented yet.

There is also a need for those with software development skills to create apps for stations and develop the programs presenters and journalists use behind-the-scenes.

If you are the kind of person who has already got the Christmas shopping sorted, then a technical-specialist project manager role might be for you — engineers are involved with everything from upgrading one piece of equipment to multi-million pound projects for new radio station buildings.

There are many routes into a career in broadcast engineering. You may already have an electronics or sound-based degree. If not, then the BBC runs paid apprenticeship schemes at college, university and post-graduate levels.

There is also Radio TechCon, which is the UK radio and audio industry’s technical and engineering conference. The event showcases a range of different broadcast engineering topics, ranging from visualizing studios for under £100 and understanding AoIP, to running solar-powered radio stations in war zones. It’s a great way to meet new people and get a feel for the industry (full disclosure: I’m one of the organizers).

Finally, nothing beats experience and transferrable skills. If you have helped out at a student or community radio station, run sound desks for bands, been a radio set up your own podcast, you will have some skills on which to build.

You don’t have to have come from a “traditional” background to consider a career in broadcast engineering. The UK is one of the world leaders in this industry — is 2018 the year you will come to join us? 

Listen to our interview with Ann and other prominent women in the industry on the PSNEurope Women in Audio podcast on iTunes and at www.soundcloud/psneurope

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Commission alleges 65 AV transmitters intended to relay video to UAS can transmit in unauthorized radio frequency bands

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to come down hard on a manufacturer whose devices could potentially transmit without authorization in certain radio frequency bands.

The FCC proposed a $2.8 million penalty against HobbyKing, a provider of audio/video transmitters that are intended to relay video to unmanned aircraft systems and other devices. According to the commission, 65 of these devices have the alleged capacity to transmit in unauthorized radio frequency bands, including some models that could allegedly operate at what the FCC called “excessive transmission power levels.”

According to the commission, transmissions such as these could potentially interfere with key government and public safety services like aviation systems and weather radar systems.

The FCC did not detail any specific incidents in its announcement.

Through its website , the Hong Kong-based company markets devices that the commission said provides a video link between transmitters that are mounted on unmanned aircraft systems and users who are flying drones. According to the commission, HobbyKing represented that its transmitters operated in designated amateur radio bands; an investigation by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau found that 65 models could also apparently operate outside those bands.

FCC authority is required for users operating a radio frequency-emitting device that could potentially operate outside of the designated amateur-use radio frequency bands. The commission said that none of the devices in question marketed by HobbyKing were certified by the commission. In addition, the FCC said that all amateur equipment used to telecommand model crafts are limited to 1,000 mW of power. The commission said in its announcement that three HobbyKing transmitter models allegedly operate at 1,500 mW and 2000 mW.

Following complaints to the FCC, the bureau opened an investigation in 2015 into the company’s marketing of radio frequency devices and issued a formal citation in 2017 to warn the company that it must comply with FCC requirements.

The steep proposed penalty is not only for marketing noncompliant radio frequency devices but also for failing to comply with commission orders. According to the commission, HobbyKing failed to respond to the enforcement bureau’s previously issued a citation notifying HobbyKing of its legal and regulatory obligations. The company also failed to stop marketing the alleged noncompliant equipment despite a cease and desist order from the FCC. Current law requires companies to respond to requests from the FCC after being warned of possible violations.

The FCC said that HobbyKing has an opportunity to respond to the proposed assessment, and reminded the public that the commission will consider submitted evidence and legal arguments before taking further action.

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He is concerned engineers are too busy, or stations feel they can’t pay the $435 filing fee to register their downlinks

We have been hearing a lot about C-Band satellite dish registration lately. 

It is critical that the Federal Communications Commission understands how pervasive C-Band receive dishes are at radio (and television) stations throughout the United States and its territories before they open the band up to 5G interference. 

I am, however, concerned that many engineers are too busy to bother or stations feel they can’t spend the $435 to pay the filing fee to have their dishes registered.

While I think the FCC should have waived that fee, regardless, here is an alternative idea that might help the commission understand the plethora of C-Band dishes actually in use. 

During the comment period, I would hope that every one of the various radio networks who distribute their content via C-Band satellite — as well as the networks who lease transponder space from other networks — will file comments complete with a detailed list of call letters and locations (by city and state) of their affiliates. 

Certainly those networks know who their affiliates are today because receivers have to be permissioned (authorized) to receive the signals and the networks have these records. If every network files this information with the FCC, the commissioners will have a robust, accurate list of the scope of this situation — and the potential disaster that is awaiting if they try to share this spectrum with carriers opening up 5G services.

In addition, those who feed translators and full-service stations by satellite (thinking NPR, EMF, Salem, Moody, etc.) on a full-time basis could be particularly hard hit and should file that same list with the commission.


This brings to mind issues we had in Florida (as well as in other coastal areas) post-9/11 when Airborne Early Warning and Control System sentries were patrolling with their very high-power radar turned on. 

This was a major issue for me and many other engineers in our area. About every 20 seconds, our receivers would mute for about 1-2 seconds and come back on. We purchased a filter and installed it on our feed horn, but that did not solve the problem. 

Initially, the USAF denied they were causing this interference, but enough complaints surfaced that they changed their ways to eliminate the problem (that they had not been causing in the first place), and it went away. That was transitory and was solved. 

In my case, we have two cellular providers on our 400-foot tower at the studio, which is also one of our FM station’s transmitter site. We have our C-Band receive dish approximately 50 feet from that tower. I can’t imagine trying to eliminate co-channel interference at that range. Many other engineers will be in a similar situation. 

We should stop this before it gets started.

Kneller is a consultant to Solmart Media LLC.

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The pubcaster says sharing should mean exclusive spectrum for incumbents, wireless broadband

WASHINGTON — Public radio is waving a caution flag as the Trump Administration pushes to open up the C-band (3.7-4.2 GHz.) for broadband, echoing comments by the National Association of Broadcasters.

Its advice is to divide if it wants to conquer in the race to 5G. National Public Radio has told the FCC it should reserve some C-band spectrum for wireless broadband, but should reserve the remainder for exclusive use by incumbents, like NPR’s fixed satellite delivery of its programming.

The FCC sought comment on how to free up C-band satellite spectrum for sharing with broadband services as it seeks to advance 5G and nationwide broadband deployment, including how best to share it. NPR had plenty to say.

NPR says that the best thing to do is give incumbents and new users their own designated spectrum rather than mandate sharing of the same spectrum by both commercial wireless and fixed satellite users like NPR. Those fixed satellite users also include TV broadcast networks and cable operators. “[T]he only feasible way to share the C-band spectrum without causing harmful interference to current users is to subdivide it, and in so doing to ensure adequate protections for existing uses through guard bands and appropriate licensing requirements,” NPR said.

NPR dropped some familiar programming names whose distribution depends on C-band spectrum to get to 42 million people via 1,270 public radio stations, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Marketplace.

Some wireless companies, including T-Mobile, have said that shielding and filtering can allow both to share the same spectrum, but NPR says no. “Shielding can be effective in limited circumstances to remediate interference between two fixed devices,” said the public broadcaster, “but there is currently no shielding technology that could provide the kind of dynamic, all-encompassing protection that would be required to protect against interference from mobile devices.

Similarly, filtering can be useful to block out interfering signals within a certain range, but it reduces the effectiveness of the downlink signals it protects, and it does not create the kind of clear, interference-free transmission zone that is essential to public radio’s programming distribution needs.Mobile broadband should be allowed in the band only if it does not create such interference of threaten access to all that content–including emergency alerts and local journalism–on the stations, the filing concluded.

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