Alternate Spectrum

Alternate Spectrum

In the map below, the areas in red are places where if there was a filing window for new LPFM stations, no channels would be available.  The areas in cyan have restrictions on antennas and locations due to short-spaced second adjacent channels:

(NOTE: This map was created before the 2023 LPFM filing window and therefore has not been updated since.)

With areas like New York City, Boston and Miami in red and the increased pirate activities in these areas, it clearly shows that there is still a need for organizations, especially those serving minority populations to have some kind of a voice on the air.  While the LPFM window did add some stations in the Top 20 metropolitan areas, many of these stations are at expensive locations due to second adjacent channel short-spacing that restricted where the station could go.  Some granted construction permits lapsed because the arrangements to use the original site fell through or there was "sticker shock" on how much the up-front costs on a leased tower site, which primarily deals with the big wireless companies would be for a small non-profit organization.

Let us be clear, REC does not condone radio piracy but as we have seen many times in the USA and around the world, and upsurge of non-commercial unlicensed broadcasting can usually identify a specific community that is not being served by AM and FM broadcast stations.  This could be the use of a specific ethnic language, outreach to a specific minority religion or faith or even in some cases, a music genre that commercial radio has forgot or is otherwise ignoring.  

REC believes that established non-profit service organizations should be able to use radio to reach not only the minority populations they serve but to also educate the rest of the community in order to accomplish an understanding of the diverse communities that we live in.  REC believes that this type of outreach should not require an expensive mobile broadband subscription or be tethered to a computer, satellite dish or cable television system.  Receiving a broadcast over the radio is still the most efficient way to reach a community.  

In New York City, if there was another LPFM filing window, there are no available LPFM channels anywhere within at least 20 miles of Midtown Manhattan.  In Los Angeles, the only "available" channels for LPFM are unusable because of grandfathered "super-power" full-service stations.  In these and many other metro areas, there are simply no channels that meet the FCC's minimum distance separation under §73.807 and in other areas, the construction may require a costly leased tower site with a very high antenna height despite the fact the organization may own a building and could otherwise place an antenna at that building but are precluded from doing so because of short-spaced second adjacent channel stations.

Over the years, there have been many ideas proposed on the record at the FCC through comments in rulemaking proceedings suggesting particular portions of spectrum where low power broadcast stations could be constructed in a manner that are more accessible and attainable by non-profit organizations with limited budgets while achieving a viable facility and meeting federal regulations for radio frequency exposure.  In this living document, we evaluate the spectrum that has been proposed by REC and others in the past and review their current circumstances and provide analysis on whether that spectrum is desirable for broadcast expansion and the feasibility of that band from various perspectives.

It is important to realize that no matter what you propose, any Alternate Spectrum proposal will involve the purchase of a new radio.  The goal is to find alternative spectrum and transmission technology that will not just work in the United States, but could eventually be adopted as a standard in other parts of the world.  In some aspects of Alternate Spectrum, the world is well ahead of the US.  

At this time, the most favorable band for Alternate Spectrum is the segment from 25670~26100 kHz followed by the segment from 76~88 MHz.

Please read the documents below for more information on each of the evaluated bands.

Additional resources

Canada table of frequency allocations

Mexico table of frequency allocations

Canada station information available at REC's

Mexico broadcasting infrastructure (AM, FM and TV lists)