You’ve seen them along the roadside. You’ve heard their scratchy low-power AM signals.
They are Travelers Information Stations. Now the Federal Communications Commission is thinking about expanding their role and has opened a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the issue.
TIS stations are AM radio channels that provide motorists information and updates on traffic congestion, accidents and weather reports.
The Highway Information Systems Inc., the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the American Association of Information Radio Operators asked the FCC to expand the role of TIS nationwide by allowing regional broadcasts of more types of potential life-saving emergency information to travelers.
They feel that would be especially helpful during power blackouts, when traditional means of communications may be inoperable. According to the FCC, a significant number of these stations operate on solar-power and/or have battery back-up power systems that would enable them to continue to broadcast information to travelers regionally during significant power outages.
In its NPRM, the FCC is asking whether the TIS service should expand to include Amber alerts, public health warnings, terror threat levels, weather reports and other information. The commission also seeks comment on whether TIS power limits should be increased to reach a larger listening audience in their coverage area and how much of an increase would be appropriate without the TIS causing harmful interference to neighbor stations.
The deadline for public comments is 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Read the FCC details here.