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FCC Fine-Tunes FM IBOC Comment Request

Developments since fall 2008 warrant a new round of comments

There’s evidence the proposed FM IBOC power increase is still on the FCC’s radar and that action may be taken still this year. The commission is asking for more comments on whether to allow FMs to increase their digital power by up to 10 percent of their analog power on a voluntary basis.

Although the FCC asked for comments last fall, the landscape has changed since then as NPR recently said it intends to conduct more tests related to the effects of an increase. Specifically, NPR hopes to be able to recommend minimum spacing distances needed to protect analog signals from higher powered digital operations. It intends to have results ready in September.

The agency says developments since last fall prompted this newest solicitation for comments in four areas. It asks whether it should wait to consider the power increase request until the NPR tests are done and the public has had a chance to comment on the results. The commission is also asking whether it should grant the entire 10 dB increase or some lower power and whether standards should be built-in to protect analogs operating on first adjacents to digital stations, such as LPFMs. The agency also asks whether explicit procedures should be adopted to resolve digital-into-analog interference complaints.

Comments about the Notice (DA 09-1127) to MM Docket 99-325 are due 21 days after Federal Register publication.