At the NAB Radio Show in Dallas in September, FCC Commissioner Pai promised that the FCC would take action to revitalize the AM band (see our story here). For years, AM has suffered a gradual erosion in listening, as interference on the band has increased – not necessarily from other AM stations, but instead from background noise that is now part of the environment in most urban areas. This interference is caused by everything from fluorescent lights to plasma TV screens to various other electronic devices that are prevalent in the modern world. At the NAB Show in Las Vegas the week before last, Commissioner Pai reprised his discussion of AM improvements, this time moderating a panel of experts to discuss the potential remedies to the problems faced by the AM radio service. So just what remedies may be possible?
The panel set out several possible solutions to AM interference issues, all of which have potential downsides or problems. These include the following:
- More FM translators for AM stations
- Blanket power increases for all AM stations
- A reduction in skywave protection
- The adoption of a cellular architecture for AM stations
- All-digital operation for AM stations
Let’s look at each of these options below.