Steps to Lower Noise Floor to Support AM radio

Background noise is creating increasing interference degrading the quality of broadcast reception, two-way communications, mobile cellphone services and every other form of wireless communications used today at an alarming rate.

The FCC and the ITU agree that the DC to 60 GHz+ wide-spectrum background noise floor is increasing as more and more unregulated electronic devices are used by more consumers in more ways every day.

While it is true that large numbers of these devices have been in use for some time, the partnership is questioning “What can we do to lower the noise floor now that the floodgates of unregulated devices have been open for so long? Is this an impossible task?”

On 15th June 2016, the FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Technical Advisory Council opened a noise floor technical inquiry in the form of ET Docket No. 16-191 to seek answers to the following basic questions:

  1. Is there a noise problem?
  2. Where does the problem exist? Spectrally? Spatially? Temporally?
  3. Is there quantitative evidence of the overall increase in the total integrated noise floor across various segments of the radio frequency spectrum?
  4. How should a noise study be performed?

The most prominent responses were from the American Radio Relay League, the Society of Broadcast Engineers, the NAB, the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the State of California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Public Safety Communications, Verizon and AT&T.

Unfortunately, most were anecdotal, not accompanied with measured quantitative data. This is largely because the responders did not have the instrumentation resources nor the budget to provide the quantitative evidence being sought.

Despite the scarcity of quantitative data submissions, one clear outcome of this TAC technical inquiry is an unmistakable consensus among the responders: A noise floor study is not only needed but overdue.

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