The IBOC Power Increase
On January 29, 2010, the FCC issued an Order permitting an increase in FM digital power.
The Media Bureau action means most FM stations can increase their digital carriers by 6 dB (fourfold) immediately, and can apply for up to 10 dB of increase, to 10% of the analog carrier power. Notification will be electronically. Of course, immediately typically means 30 days, for the government paperwork to process. On the other hand, stations that are really impatient may be able to seek an STA.
The increase, requested by ibiquity, the four major transmitter manufacturers and 18 group owners, said to represent 1200 radio stations, is designed to increase digital coverage. At the same time, there are to be procedures to resolve interference complaints promptly, as well as limit power increases for the so-called “super-powered” stations, which are grandfathered with power will in excess of their class maximums.
Several studies by ibiquity and NPR have tried to give the pluses and minuses of the increase – especially in relation to interference to adjacent stations.
Predictably, there are those who think this is a bad idea – lower powered and suburban stations are sure to suffer. While some say any interference is outside the protected coverage contours, explaining that to listeners may be another matter.