REC Statement: 24-183 Proposed "A10" full service FM service class (updated 6-22-24)

Updated June 22, 2024 to reflect a withdrawal of any support of A10 in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands due to the nature of the rules differences in that region.  REC has not yet made a final conclusion on our level of support, if any, for this proceeding.  This will be announced in comments.  We still have a lot of technical studies to conduct first.

The FCC is now accepting comments on a Petition for Rulemaking filed by Commander Communications (WRTM-FM) to create a new “A10” service class of full-service FM stations.  The new A10 service class would be an upgrade path for current Class A FM stations that would permit an increase from 6 kW to 10 kW effective radiated power (ERP) at 100 meters height above average terrain (HAAT) and a service contour increase from 28.3 to 31.9 kilometers. 

This petition is to replace the previously proposed “C4” class of service, which proposed a 12 kW ERP at 100 meters HAAT in FM Zone II only.  The previously proposed changes to §73.215, which proposed to allow actual facilities instead of full facilities to be used when attempting to protect other FM facilities is not a part of this petition.  The §73.215 aspect of the C4 proposal was a major point of contention with both the NAB and REC. 

Unlike the previous C4 proposal, the A10 proposal does not restrict stations to Zone II, but would also be available in Zone I (northeast US and midwest) and Zone I-A (California south of 40 degrees latitude, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands).  Effectively, available nationwide.  Since this is considered an “A” class of service, this will mean that service contours in Zones I and I-A would be 60 dBu instead of 57 or 54 dBu.  If the latter was the case, we would absolutely oppose it with those larger service contours.

REC’s initial position on A10 is similar to our position on the power increase aspect of the prior C4 petition that we will only consider such an increase if it is packaged with a companion proceeding, RM-11909 to allow for LPFM station upgrades to LP-250 as long as revised minimum distance separation requirements are met.

The FCC has already taken this to a docket number (MB Docket 24-183) and is accepting comments until July 22, 2024 with reply comments due August 21, 2024.  We note that this is not a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at this time.  This item may go nowhere.  LP-250 was given a similar treatment (but with less fanfare) when it was proposed.

In a recent report conducted by REC on June 2, 2024, we had found that If Class C4 was to be adopted and each eligible station took the upgrade, it would have had the following impacts to existing LPFM stations:

  • 7 LPFM stations may be subject to displacement under §73.809.
  • 44 LPFM stations would have increased §73.807 short-spacing.
  • 108 LPFM stations would have new §73.807 short-spacing.
  • 100 LPFM stations may experience increased interference from a distance separation perspective
  • 63 LPFM stations may experience interference for the first time from a distance separation perspective.

We note that the previous studies conducted by REC were based on only FM Zone II and did not include the entire country.

REC plans to build the necessary programs to look at the impacts from A10.  Even though the numbers above would slightly decrease for LPFMs in Zone II, there would be new instances of encroachment that would take place if this service was allowed in Zones I and I-A.

REC plans to fully participate in this proceeding.

While it was not included in the original Petition for Rulemaking, REC has calculated what the distance separation requirements from LPFM stations would be if a new Class A10 service was ever adopted as proposed:

LP100 minimum distance separations – except Puerto Rico/US Virgin Islands

Full service class

Co-channel

First-adjacent

Second & third* adjacent channel

Minimum spacing

No interference received

Minimum spacing

No interference received

A

67

92

56

56

29

A10

70

101

60

60

33

C4

72

104

61

61

34

C3

78

119

67

67

40

LP250 minimum distance separations – except Puerto Rico/US Virgin Islands

Full service class

Co-channel

First-adjacent

Second & third* adjacent channel

Minimum spacing

No interference received

Minimum spacing

No interference received

A

72

94

58

58

29

A10

76

102

62

62

33

C4

77

105

63

63

34

C3

83

120

69

69

40

 

* - Third adjacent spacing is shown as a reference to certain rules in §73.807 and §73.810 regarding radio reading services and third-adjacent channel interference remediation and public notifications, pursuant to the Local Community Radio Act of 2010.

REC opposes the creation of Class A10 in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands since the service contour of a PR/VI Class A station already exceeds that of the proposed A10.  Puerto Rico and Virigin Islands use different definitions of service contour size through different maximum height above average terrains due to the terrain in the area.