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What about low(er) tech solutions?
1/5/19
by Chris Hays

As I read about the hand-wringing about reverse 911 failures, EAS failures and the like, I am struck by the fact that no one is looking at older technologies that we have abandoned in favor of newer technology. 

New technology depends on infrastructure that is always in danger of being compromised in a disaster. So my modest suggestion is, what about sirens?

I really think that none of the systems in place currently can respond quickly enough to start evacuation in the presence of a fast moving wild fire like the Camp Fire.

Sirens have the advantage that they don't require any end-user technology to work. If residents know that the sirens mean an evacuation alert, they can immediately get into motion and turn on their portable radios to get information (by the way, we are living in the era where many young persons do not own a radio receiver, portable or not -- big problem). At least most cars have radios.

If the cell phone was left in the kitchen and they are in bed, they know to get it into their hands. I see only two real down sides. One obvious one is deaf or hearing impaired coverage. Also there is the need for power and signaling to activate the sirens. It is possible to harden these devices so that loss of power could be dealt with by a fairly small generator set. If wireless signaling were used, the generator would be sufficient. Such systems could be built in areas that have a high risk of wild fires.

Of course these days, they need to be designed to be as non hackable as possible.  That is one reason I specified a radio link, not the internet! That needs to be true of everything remote accessible.

I'm old enough to remember the scheduled testing of the air raid sirens in the cold war era. Regular tests would be required of course.

In closing, I'd like to point out the error of discarding old ways.  Two examples:

Because of GPS, the military shut down and in some cases dismantled loran-c, which was a functional radio location system. Now they realize that because of the weak satellite signals from GPS, it is easily jammed or faked by an enemy. Now they are scrambling for funding to get e-loran (improved system) installed as a back up for GPS. Had they not discarded loran-c, a more gradual upgrade might have been possible while all along having a terrestrial working system in place.

Remember morse code? Shortly before it was abandoned there was in incident where a vessel off the coast of Alaska had a fire in the engine room.  They got the fire out, but it left them with no power to run all the modern technology on board leaving them adrift. But what they did have on board was an emergency battery operated morse set and an operator who knew how to use it. The only "processor" needed was a trained human brain, and they were able to call for help. The call was received by coast station KPH who was able to notify the coast guard.

Sometimes, simpler is better.

Chris Hays
chris@chrishays.com

Let us know what is on your mind
 

 

Emergency Communications
1/27/19
by Ron Schacht

Yes, to Chris' article on simple and older is better.

I chuckle every time there  is a cell phone or Internet failure panic. Even though the millenials do not know what radio is, especially AM radio, the day will come when it will save their hide.

Most broadcasters are committed to keeping a signal on the air no matter the circumstances or disasters. Both the cell phone people and the Internet people rely on "wires" or fiber optic or some other easily damaged link.

In contrast, Radio has always performed the necessary service to keep information flowing to the people that need it. The Internet cant do it, Cell phones cannot do it, Satellite radio or Television cant do it and with most other people not using off air television anymore (satellite or catv) television with the exception of viewers with real antennas, cannot do it.

I wonder how many billions of lives AM radio has saved in its almost 100 year history. In 100 years, I doubt if cell phones will still be around, they will be implants and will still only work 50% of the time at 50% of the locations.

If I am caught in the middle of a disaster, give me a good old 1960's transistor radio and a couple of spare 9-Volt batteries, forget the rest of the technology "cr*p"

Ron Schacht
Contract Engineer - Northcentral Iowa and Southcentral, MN
screamingeagle@wctatel.net

Ineffective Warnings Cost Many Lives
12/18/18
By Mark Miller

[Editor's Note: Reports from the recent California fires indicate that government agencies apparently chose to ignore EAS in favor or "opt-in" reverse 911 systems. In some areas of the Camp Fire, over 90% of residents did NOT receive warning. Mark Miller sees the failure to activate EAS as a large factor in the fatalities.]
 
I am a contract engineer based in the North Sacramento Valley area. I have worked for small market commercial and public stations from California to Alaska.
 
When the Carr Fire ripped thru the edge of Redding, CA recently there were several things regarding the evacuation notifications that drew my attention. Among them were notifications that did not go to the Redding area from some stations that covered Redding but their community of license was not Redding. Conversations with the CEs have hopefully rectified this but this is an indication of how the EAS is in need of some oversight.
 
Paradise California was a beautiful and affordable small mountain town near Chico, CA with many older residents. Those residents close to myself received reverse 911 warnings, and within a few minutes, mandatory evacuation calls for the Camp Fire. They were lucky that the telco power and lines were still available. Few cell users received the warning calls. Almost all of the 80+ fatalities were elderly. 

The EAS was NOT activated even though the County officials had IPAWS terminals and the mandatory trained personnel to operate them, which could have sent the evacuation orders to stations instantly. One wonders how many of the nearly 90 fatalities might have been able to escape had they been able to see or hear the alert on their TVs and radios. The fire was very fast moving, and our dedicated 911 personnel certainly had their hands full with this, as well as the previous evacuations of the Oroville Dam spillway failures and other recent wildland fires but we could do better.

The EAS is supposed to be a "volunteer" program. Of the dozens of stations that I have been associated with over the years, none have opted out, although most of them view the EAS as a low priority, unfunded mandate for small markets, in a time when media revenues have shifted to internet outlets. Local area chairpersons are often busy with their "day' jobs."   'Volunteer' really just means 'unfunded.'

* I propose that all authorities that are equipped to activate the EAS via  IPAWS be required to send weekly 'log-only' EAS tests.  This would keep this valuable resource at the front of their minds in the chaos of a major emergency.

* Stations that stream their programs should be required to stream the local EAS emergency activations.

* The FEMA should support the system by funding local EAS chairpersons expenses and oversight costs.

* The FEMA should subsidize EAS equipment for the smaller market stations for updated encoders/decoders when they are needed and provide free decoders for LPFMs.

* FEMA should revitalize their defunct emergency generator program.

Efforts to divert funds from the FEMA for other projects should be stopped. As we cause planetary level changes to the environment, and we have, there will be repercussions.

A flawed emergency system is sometimes worse than no system.

Mark Miller
k6nca@att.net

Let us know what is on your mind
 

  The Problem is Not Only with Emergency Managers
12/20/18
By Rod Zeigler

While the body of the article does bring up an important point, the solutions are well outside the purview of broadcasters, the FCC, and FEMA.

These incidents have been discussed ad nauseum on many EAS forums and it comes down to one main problem in all cases: local Emergency Managers do not have the training needed to originate meaningful alerts. They are trying to manage the emergency by coordinating responses to mitigate the emergency.

They know they need to let people know, but they do not know or understand the best way to do that. Instead, they have purchased, or have access to, tools such as Reverse 911. These tools were purchased with local tax dollars, and as such are the "go-to" techniques so that the purchase of these tools is justified. I can't blame them for doing so. To this point there is not a comprehensive "Alerting Technique and Deployment" syllabus in any training offered by anyone.

The EM's are inundated with vendors who offer wondrous alerting programs. These vendors then sell the product, show the EM's how to use it, and go cash the check.

No one is teaching the EM's when, why, who is charged with sending the alerts, and the most effective way to use these products in their jurisdictions.

That is why we have Reverse 911 that doesn't work due to downed phone lines and other problems that arise during an active event.

I am NOT blaming EM's completely for this. These people have budgetary and political considerations that they also have to deal with during these events. After the event they are tied up with everything involving the restoration as well as endless reports to various agencies. Without taking all of the above into consideration prior to the event, and making detailed plans that can be followed during the next event, it seems that lessons are not learned.

As far as SECC's and LECC's receiving support from FEMA, they are not under FEMA jurisdiction. These groups are called for by the FCC, then created and operated at the State and Local level. A little remuneration would be nice, but in today's real world of tight finances it is unrealistic.

EAS itself is also under FCC jurisdiction, not FEMA's. Supplying EAS equipment to individual stations should, if anything, be a State and Local function.

Remember, EAS was established by the FCC for only one purpose, to propagate EAN's across the country. Period. State and Local agencies are allowed to use EAS for State and Local alerts, but only as a secondary service to the Federal government.
Licensed broadcasters can no longer opt-out of EAS. That option was removed at the same time that the new EAS boxes with CAP were required.

FEMA did come up with IPAWS and allows State and Local agencies to send alerts via public internet to broadcasters and cable operators, but that is a passive function, with security protocols, due to the nature of the public internet. It is not a source to be counted on when a disaster takes down the internet for a myriad of reasons. It is great on a blue sky day, but beyond that it should be the last option for sending alerts.

In closing,

  • Yes, there were issues with alerting at almost every large disaster over the last few years.
  • Yes, there needs to be a comprehensive training syllabus available to EM's.
  • Yes, the funding for this training needs to be made available.

The training and funding will probably be coming in the near future given the bills in Congress as well as reports by others that have targeted the lack of training, and other things, as problems that can and should be resolved in the coming months and years.

Until this happens we have to work with what we have and do our best at all levels.  

Let us know what is on your mind
 

 

am radio eas
1/5/19
By Mark Miller


AM radio will always be with us despite what some European countries are doing. It is a backup and an outlet for media like talk that does not compete well with other modes. 

Unfortunately the power trains of our new generation of vehicles emit so much noise in the AM band that some electric autos are coming out without AM radios at all. 

Maybe part 15 rules should apply to these cars. 

Mark Miller

  Broadcasters Do Not Have To Wait for EMs
12/20/18
by Gary Smith

As a participating station, each station is authorized to originate an EAS alert at their discretion. The FCC Rules permit this and will back a broadcaster that takes the initiative when the local or state emergency officials fail to originate an alert or alerting infrastructure fails.

At KTAR in Phoenix we used Alert FM. It is an elegant, simple solution that operators can learn quickly. Our step by step guide left little room for error. In the newsroom we had 16 people trained to use it. While on the CSRIC full council we reviewed numerous software options that did a commendable job.

Broadcast EAS lacks the targeted alerting of WEA, but insures all the bases are covered.

State and local emergency management needs to step up and fulfill the purpose of their creation.

 

Emergency Alert Warnings that work!
12/20/18
by Hank Landsberg

Re: the recent failure of EAS and cellphone/text evacuation warnings during the Paradise fire in California: About 10 years ago, I built a TIS radio station for the City of Sierra Madre, CA.  It's main purpose was to provide emergency evacuation info in the event of a wildfire or other emergency. 

It's AM radio! Low-tech, hi-reliability! Anyone can hear AM radio, at home, work, in the car. You don't need any tech infrastructure, just a simple AM radio and batteries to run it. 

It's an ideal use for TIS! 

 

 


Let us know what is on your mind

 

  Warnings Are A Lost Cause For Many People

12/21/18
by James Potter

Barry posted an article by Richard Rubman titled: 'EAS Alert / CA Fire Sparks Key Discussions.'  The piece is well-written and researched, and outlines numerous ideas and discussions regarding changes and improvements to warning systems to alert the public in fire zones to evacuate.

Having lived in Carlsbad, CA (35 miles north of the city of San Diego) a decade ago and watched large airborne embers stream past my condo, and seeing the morning sun turn red and the beach turn black, I tell you fire on that scale is a fearsome and terrifying thing to behold.   But
so is cancer. Despite the discussions in the referenced article, it is highly probable none of the improvements and changes will have any material effect. 

Why not? Because of human nature to deny the real
possibility of losing all your possessions to fire or your life to lung cancer due to smoking.  It's too terrifying to think about -- people harbor hope against hope that the fire and tumor will stop just short of their house or chest.  People will only flee for their lives when they see the flames high in the sky over their neighbor's garage, then jump in the car and join the Conga line to the freeway -- and burn up in
situ.

No amount of complex alerts on iThingies or the EAS annos on radio or TV will motivate the vast majority of home owners to abandon their properties well ahead of the firestorm. Folks just won't do it until they feel genuinely threatened -- like when the house across the street
goes up in flames -- then it's way too late to escape. 

What does make sense it to have your vital papers and computers and basic clothes and toiletries and a $grand or so readily accessible to be carried to your car(s) to beat it the hell outta Dodge when the fire is 15 miles away but still spreading. Get the wife and kids and the dog into the wagon(s) and head down/up the freeway to a Motel 6 for a while and keep tabs on your own burg by watching TV. 

If your house is consumed in the flames, at least you have your lives and can rebuild them -- somewhere else.

My ten year stay in Carlsbad was idyllic for many reasons, and the most lovely and beautiful living experience of my life. I loved it there. But just like many other places in the country or on earth, there are natural disasters waiting to strike. In California's case, it's both fire and the San Andras Fault which one of these fine days is going to pop and California will slip into the sea. People live in California fully well aware of the risks of fire and earthquake, but do so anyway, ignoring the risk. 

Earthquake warnings are another absurd joke.  Can you imagine all of California attempting to escape using the 101 or Interstate 5 in a panic?  Heck, ordinary drive time traffic is a parking lot. Such is life.  You pays your nickel, and you takes your choice of where to live and what risks to accept.  And nobody gets out of this life alive.

Regards/J

Let us know what is on your mind
 


60 Years with the Very Helpful FCC
8/30/18
by Ken Benner, CBRE, NCE

This month marks the anniversary of my first experience with staff members of the FCC back in 1958. I was stationed at a U.S. Navy teleprinter relay facility on a mountaintop in North Africa.  Some of us had obtained our MARS (Military Affiliated Radio Service) licenses to exchange teleprinter messages with our families back home.

To communicate verbally during a period of excellent sunspot ionospheric activity, using a rotatable beam antenna on the 20-meter American phone band, we were able, for about six hours each night, to arrange phone patches with a fellow “ham” operator in New York, to avoid the $15 per minute transatlantic cable costs. The operator would simply place a phone call to the serviceman's loved ones for a live 8000-mile chat.

I needed a U.S. amateur operator license to operate and with the cooperation of the FCC, I was granted my first FCC amateur radio license following a couple exam tests. This was my first experience of extraordinary cooperation with the Commission that continues to this day with never the slightest problem.

On more than one occasion, I have requested the presence of an FCC regional engineer/inspector for seminars conducted at broadcaster conventions.  Each request was always promptly granted.

While on the road conducting Alternative Inspections, I would frequently be confronted with a question I could not address.  A simple phone call to either the regional FCC office or their offices in Washington promptly provided the information to resolve any problem or question.

On more than one occasion following my certification of a station’s compliance, a problem between a station and the FCC would develop. Such was almost always the result of a complaint filed with the FCC by a competitor seeking the forfeiture of a license, a disgruntled former employee, or a party unhappy with a station's program resulting from a disturbing news item related to the complainant. 

In every instance, once I was made aware of such issues, following a review of my inspection reports for the victim stations, I was able to satisfactorily document, admittedly some times under oath, the reality of the station’s innocence resulting in a satisfactory review of a possible fine.

The staff of the Federal Communications Commission are willing to assist any station with helpful suggestions for anyone approaching them with absolute integrity.  Indeed,  such has been my experience for the past 60 years.


Charlie Goodrich Remembered
8/2/18

by Dwight Morgan

It is with much sadness that I read that Charley Goodrich has passed. 

He helped me many times (at all hours) with needing parts or help with a radio station that was giving me fits. I once had a station with the transmitter in a 2-story log house in Gunnison, CO., that had some tube problems and he was the patient engineer that talked me through the tube and socket replacement. 

I have had his phone number for many years in my address book and today it was erased in the book, but not in my memory.

(Have a Charlie Goodrich story? Share here.)


The Impact of MB 18-184 
The FM Class C4 / 73.215 Proposal

7/26/18
by Matthew Wesolowski
SSR Communications, Inc.

From now until August 13th, the Federal Communications Commission is accepting formal comments in the FM Class C4 / 73.215 (MB 18-184) Notice of Inquiry proceeding.  The NOI seeks to ascertain the demand for a new Zone II FM station power class, the "FM Class C4" allocation, and if changes to 73.215 are warranted for certain long-underbuilt FM facilities.

Approximately 800 FM Class A radio stations could be eligible to upgrade from a maximum reference effective radiated power level of 6,000 Watts to 12,000 Watts under the proposal.  In many cases, the 73.215 changes would further enhance the ability of small stations to improve their facilities.

The National Association of Broadcasters, iHeart, and all of the other "usual suspects" are not apt to support the plan.  The "big guys" already own prime radio real estate, and collectively, only operate a handful of the nearly 800 stations that could benefit.  There is simply no reason for larger broadcasters to be enthusiastic about the proposal.  In short, a turf war is brewing between independent stations and the broadcast megacorps.

Still, over seventy-five small broadcasters have already submitted their comments in support of full implementation of the MB 18-184 proceeding, and with several weeks to go until the comment deadline, it is likely safe to assume that more positive letters are coming and that the demand is clearly there for the adoption of the MB 18-184 proposal.

Even if just 200-300 stations actually take advantage of the changes, the benefits would be almost exclusively for smaller "Mom and Pop" and independent operators.  These are the broadcasters who didn't sell out to the larger groups and are still very viable in their communities.  In other words, the smallest commercial class of broadcasters stand to gain the most.

Though it very well may be the case that some stations use this proceeding as an opportunity to become rimshot signals to larger markets, for the most part, any station with that goal in mind would likely have to move further away from an urban core in order to upgrade to a FM Class C4 license, as the separation tables are greater for the C4 class.

The proponents are a "rag tag" bunch, to be sure, but the opposition is very well funded and will not want to see any increased competition from the small Mom and Po
p and independent stations.  By and large, the big guys will not want a new station class, nor will they want to cede any potential bandwidth to a (seemingly) meeker broadcaster.

The MB 18-184 FM / Class C4 and 73.215 proposal represents a tremendous opportunity for responsible small broadcasters everywhere.  It is the precise type of relief that independent operators seek, and the exact tool that would help the "little guy" regain a competitive toehold in the industry to which they have exhibited their total devotion
.


Repacking the C-Band

6/28/18
by Clay Freinwald


Sitting just a few feet from FCC Chairman Pai at NAB recently I came away thinking that he is not anti-broadcast…Then I learned his position regarding C-Band (3.7-4.2 Gig) Called Mid-Band by the wireless industry.  Once again we are in a defensive position in terms of spectrum.  The wireless industry is not dumb – They want additional spectrum and they consider any of that is not heavily used fair-game…On the surface, apparently, our C-Band qualified.

Remember the battle over the 2 Gig spectrum when the wireless industry set its sights on that band?  Broadcasters were scrambling to show the FCC that we did indeed use the spectrum a lot more than they thought.  The issue was the lack of information regarding the number and location of receivers.  Frankly, we were caught short on this one…As a result we experienced our first dose of ‘repacking’…(even if it was not called that).  In the end, we lost spectrum.

Then it was deemed that Broadcasters were never going to use all the TV spectrum they were allocated….and, on top of that, the FCC had done a poor job of spectrum management with the switch from analog to digital and the case was made to ‘re-pack’ TV….One more time, we lost ground.

Now the wireless ‘cross-hairs’ are on C-Band.  This spectrum has been used for a very long time for program/network distribution and, in the minds of many, is un-utilized…..”Wireless Speak’ for ‘We want it’.  Much like the 2-Gig issue, broadcasters have laid back thinking that the FCC was never going to let anyone else use this band…Nothing to fear.  All it took is for the Wireless crowd to assert that the band was under-utilized and contend that, at least, it could be shared by them.  IMHO, much of the blame here rests with Broadcasters, in particular Radio Stations, that have sprinkled satellite receiving antennas all over the land and not bothered to have any formal data documenting all this use.  This ‘under-counting’ is proving to be dangerous.  Now, all of a sudden there is this scramble to try and make a case that this is not a suitable location for shared use.  Whether or not we will be successful at beating back this threat remains to be seen.

History has shown that, when confronted with this kind of a situation, that we may well be looking for a loss of spectrum in exchange for a smaller piece of the pie with some protection.  Several organizations are involved in this battle – NAB, NPR, iHeartMedia, program distributors, networks etc.

Has this has put the FCC in a position that, perhaps, they did not see coming?

On the Wireless side – they are making it clear that they need the spectrum, and this particular piece is ideal for their new 5G systems.  Seems to me that this pits the desire of new ‘Gee-Whiz’ wireless toys up against old fashioned systems that are frequency hogs anyway.  Let’s face it – 5G is being pre-sold as the do-all, end-all, wireless system that’s likely exciting to the policy makers while Broadcasting is being pushed to the rear of the bus as old technology.

We were being told that the FCC would be voting in July on the proposal….Then we got word that the filing deadline had been extended to October 17.  As a lot of media coverage has pointed out.  Our C-Band systems impact a huge amount of Radio and TV operations.  A lot of fingers are crossed – My Guess – Standby for more re-packing.  See GN Docket Nos. 18-122.


 


The FCC is O&O By Non-Broadcasters

6/22/18
by Bill Shrode

Fact plain and simple. The current FCC is owned and operated by the cellular industry and the current administration.

Actually, the FCC has been in the "real estate" business ("spectrally" speaking) since the Reagan era (which I refer to as "de-Reagan-ulation") There has not been a genuine engineer on the FCC in decades.

Knowledge of what and how the spectrum is and does should be required.


Too Much Money for Too Little Promise

6/21/18
by Tom Miller

As an owner of a small group of stations, I am not sure I want to draw attention to myself and my licenses, but as background, I will tell you that I have been on the air for almost 40 years. I have owned my own stations for more than 20 years, and I am a two-time past president of our state broadcaster's association.

THE COST IS TOO HIGH

Ron Schacht's editorial echoes several of my concerns with this whole C-Band dish issue. I have one 3.8 meter Comtech dish out back, that drives several receivers, and at this point, I am not planning to spend the $435.00 to register the dish, nor the $1200.00, plus or minus, for the frequency coordination. I have discussed this with my lawyer, and with a couple of NAB rep's, and I cannot figure out what I am getting for the money that they are asking me to spend.

The following is a copy & paste of my thoughts in an e-mail conversation with my broadcast lawyer...

"The $435 is a filing fee. It does not license my receive dish. It does not guarantee any rights or protections... nor does the frequency coordination.

I think it is disingenuous for the FCC to ask for information, and then put up a monetary impediment to my providing that information. I would gladly send them the information - it is not a secret dish - but I am not willing to pay them to take the information, especially with no guarantee for protection to follow it up.

THERE WILL BE BIG MONEY IN THE FCC's POCKET

(NAB rep) estimated 25 thousand dishes could be registered... times $435 is over $10 million dollars, and I am frustrated that the FCC is encouraging the industry to send that kind of money to the Treasury for no reason, no return, no promise, no kiss at the end of the night.

We could apply the same logic to AM revitalization. Let us register all the whip antennas on all the vehicles so we know how many are out there, and then we will "protect" them from interference.

At the end of the day, this will all be decided well above my pay grade.

The satellite owners are licensed to operate in those frequencies. If they choose to sell off portions of those frequencies, it affects their business models, but maybe they make enough money off the sale to not care, and take the buyout, which is not affected by my $435 dollars.

STREAMING DOES NOT REPLACE SATELLITE

All of the programming providers who distribute through those satellites will have to find another way to reliably distribute their services - in my case, three music formats, CBS News, NBC Sports, and three sports networks. Streaming is not reliable enough for longform live programming, and nobody is singing the praises of KU band.

Maybe 5G will become the distribution means. If C-Band is screwed, so are these guys, and registration of my dish will not matter, because they will have to find a different way for their customers to get their product."

Food for thought.


FCC: Wake Up About C-Band Use!

6/17/18
by Ron Schacht

Back 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 6L6’s 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 asked me a question concerning something and, of course, it had nothing to do with 807’s or 6L6’s 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.”

Well, that line is where I am going with this thought concerning the FCC and the C-Band debacle.

HOW COULD THE FCC NOT KNOW?

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.

I would have to say, 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) CATV, radio and television that do not use C-Band downlinks should register!

There probably are very few excepting LPFM’s (although I do take care of a big 100 Watter that does have a C-Band downlink) so why cannot the Commission just accept the fact that every broadcast station, TV, radio, commercial and non-com are all using C-Band downlinks? C-Band is also the lifeblood of every CATV system so I am sure the Commission knows where every one of them exists as well. 

LOOKING AT THE SPECTRUM

Now, about those frequencies.

Take a look at the RF spectrum as is allocated by the FCC. 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 of what is listed as “radiolocation” is either unoccupied or being saved for government use. Why not share some of that underused spectrum? There is a whole bunch of it around 3 GHz. along with lots of other places.

More importantly, why do we, the broadcasters have to keeping making concessions for the cellular and broadband people, other than money talks and they have lots of it?

A DIFFERENT APPROACH

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?

The reason is because, while we are certainly 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 warnings in Iowa. The local radio stations are tracking the storms and I am listening to them do live coverage. What broadcast is doing is using their licensed facilities to keep people safe and save lives.

On the other hand, the cellular people do very little 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 two different carriers. I hear severe weather alerts on local radio or television as NOAA trips the EAS system.

WHEN SECONDS COUNT

Anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes later, severe weather might trip one or both of my cell phones.

By then, the storm has passed, or I might have been sucked up in a tornado I did not know about, or the Amber Alert child is three states away.

Neither the cell phones nor the Internet even come 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 or AM’ers stringing up long wires when their tower is toppled - Local radio and television will be there when the public needs them.

FINDING GOOD PROGRAM LINKS

Have you ever tried to use the Internet or cell service for a program link?

Yes, both radio and television do but it is 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 is not reliable.

The Internet and cell phones are nice but as toys. But if I need to make an important call, I will always go to a landline, it sounds good and I will nott 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.

FCC, LISTEN UP!

So, my message to the FCC: maybe you should look at less used spectrum for the broadband people.

Take it away from somewhere else. You have taken our TV ENG channels, our over-the-air TV channels, and have had your eyes set on our UHF RPU frequencies. And now, our you are focusing on the major source of programming outside the studio, 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 keep us safe.

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

Ron Schacht
Contract Engineer - Northcentral Iowa and Southcentral, MN
screamingeagle@wctatel.net

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