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AFCCE Urges Members to Sound Off About Spectrum Noise

They see an "unprecedented opportunity" to influence FCC thinking and policy

Leaders of an influential group of consulting engineers are urging their members to talk to station clients and speak up about spectrum noise on the broadcast radio and TV bands in the United States. They say broadcasters should not miss an “unprecedented opportunity.”

As we’ve reported, the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council currently is investigating whether there is an increasing noise problem within the radio spectrum. Many radio broadcasters feel that noise is a critical problem on the AM dial and an increasing one on the FM band as well.

Now members of the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers are being asked to submit comments to TAC.

“If you believe that the explosion of ‘incidental radiators’ such as LED traffic lights, electronic lighting ballasts, switching power supplies, poorly-maintained power lines, etc. are increasingly polluting the radio spectrum and causing widespread interference to licensed services, NOW is the time to say something,” the letter states.

“If no one complains, the FCC will not take any action to address this issue.”

The letter was signed by Robert Weller, president of AFCCE, and Tom King, ad hoc chair of the association’s Noise Study Task Group. He is president of manufacturer Kintronic Labs, and the letter was on the company letterhead.

They called the current investigation “an unprecedented opportunity that you and your broadcast clients have to report any known incidents of measurable, quantifiable noise interference to radio or television broadcast reception.”

They noted that the FCC advisory group wants to know whether there are specific devices or classes of devices that are the chief culprits; whether there are some locations where noise problems are worse (indoors, in cities, etc.); whether the existing emission limits (FCC Parts 15 and 18) are inadequate or whether more enforcement is needed; and whether additional studies are needed.

They said the outcome could affect FCC regulatory limits on RF emission sources and enhance the reception quality of terrestrial broadcast services.

They encouraged members to write at least a “paragraph of text stating that you (or your station or a client’s station) has experienced reception problems due to X (the source of the RF noise interference)” and that “articles, papers, anecdotes, measurements and descriptions of problems you’ve experienced” are also welcomed.

King said the call for action applies to all radio stations at large as well. Read the AFCCE letter here (PDF).

File using the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System, with docket number 16-191. Comments are due Aug. 11, 2016.