I believe it is time that we consider the fate of Channels 5 and 6 as they relate to current radio service. These channels have proven difficult for television broadcasting, and I have a hard time imagining that they would fare much better as additional spectrum for mobile broadband use. This spectrum is not well suited for digital transmissions. It certainly is possible that this spectrum could be used for LPFM, expanded NCE use, and AM broadcasters.
That would, indeed, be an interesting development, if it were allowed to happen. Of course, there are quite a few hurdles to get over, even if it gets the FCC’s nod, which is a long shot, to say the least. There would likely be some type of congressional “input” into the matter, which could stall things for years if not forever, depending on which way the money flows and which one of our wonderful congressional representatives can be bought and sold.
- Getting new radios on the market with the expanded FM band (77 through 87 MHz) will take some time. Thankfully, unlike HD radio, no licensing fees will be required. Manufacturers simply need to increase the frequency range down. It might take several years, but it would happen eventually, as is the case with expanded AM band radios, which are universal now.
- Existing AM stations should be given the option to move, those that stay on the AM band will get the option to improve their facilities or go non-directional as the interference contours allow.
- Those that choose to abandon AM need to surrender their AM license before commencing broadcasting on FM, none of this expanded band crap where they were supposed to surrender licenses after five years and never did.
- Those that choose to abandon the AM band also will not be assured the same theoretical coverage areas they had on the AM band.
- AM migrants should not have to compete in an auction.
Indeed, if LPFMs get a boost in the process, all the better. It might actually give radio the shot in the arm it needs, add a good deal of local competition, and satisfy several needs.