How do I get a TV, or FM Station License
Applicants for digital television (DTV) and FM radio services should be aware that unlicensed operation of a broadcast station is prohibited. Therefore, it is required to electronically file an application with the FCC using the appropriate forms. Frequencies for these services are always in heavy demand and the amount of available spectrum has diminished. The FCC recommends that applicants retain legal counsel and broadcast engineering consultants such as KGA to perform frequency searches and interference studies and help prepare the legal and technical portions of construction permit and license applications. You must first decide which type broadcast station best suits your needs (DTV, FM, LPTV, Translators) and then retain the services of a professional consulting engineering firm like KGA to determine critical parameters such as frequency, maximum operating power, antenna height, coverage area, service population and transmitter site. We prepare all the required engineering studies and exhibits and complete the engineering portion of the FCC applications. We have filed thousands of construction permit/license applications and are always up to date on the latest FCC rules and requirements. We also prepare and electronically file FAA applications for new and modified towers.
Do you do lightning protection and grounding work?
Yes. We have been working in the field of grounding and lightning protection for almost 50 years and possess the expertise, equipment and understanding of the latest codes to ensure that all grounding and lightning protection projects we undertake are done right the first time.
Does my station meet the RF radiation exposure requirements?
Many stations are not in compliance with the FCC rules with respect to radio frequency radiation exposure to humans in controlled and uncontrolled environments. We own and operate industry-standard professional RF exposure equipment (calibrated annually) to perform FCC-required Maximum Permissible Exposure (“MPE”) measurements at your facility to determine whether or not your facility is in compliance with the Occupational/Controlled and General Population/Uncontrolled RF Exposure limits established by the American National Standards Institute (“ANSI”) and the FCC. We have taken measurements all over the United States, including Alaska, and our services can be retained for virtually any service type (TV, FM, AM, Wireless, etc).
Does Kessler and Gehman perform field strength measurements?
Yes. We have experience taking field strength measurements using state of the art field strength meters and probes. Our staff conducts field strength measurements along multiple radials using a vehicle with a vehicle-mounted mast and the measurements are imported into onboard computers to record the measurements and plot the field strengths accurately on maps. We also perform field strength measurements at the site and the surrounding area.
What is HD Radio
HD Radio technology upgrades broadcast radio from analog to digital. Broadcasters that upgrade to HD Radio technology can provide consumers listening with HD Radio enabled receivers many benefits that improve their listening experience: CD-like digital audio quality and useful data services such as real-time traffic, iTunes Tagging, weather, and artist experience are just a few examples. In addition to the upgrades to the original primary channel the HD Radio Technology enables broadcasters to create extra FM channels on the radio dial which are called HD2 and HD3 channels which essentially give you two new stations to program or lease out for additional revenue.
Can my station increase it's HD Radio Power
The FCC currently permits a blanketed 6 dB increase in FM digital effective radiated power (ERP) from -20 dBc to -14 dBc. Previously, the FM digital ERP was limited to only -20 dBc (1% of authorized ERP). The FCC also permits additional FM Digital ERP increases in excess of 6 dB if certain conditions that limit harmful interference are met. A licensee desiring FM Digital ERP in excess of -14 dBc should retain the services of a professional consulting engineering firm, like KGA, to calculate the station’s analog F(50,10) field strength at all points on the protected 60 dBu F(50,50) contour of a potentially affected first-adjacent channel analog FM station. This calculation must be done using the station’s licensed analog facilities and the standard FCC contour prediction methodology. Once the most restrictive analog F(50,10) field strength of the proponent station has been calculated, it can then be determined if the proposed station can increase it’s FM digital ERP up to the maximum -10 dBc (10 dB increase).
Can my station increase its HD power using asymmetrical sidebands?
It is possible that one of your station’s sidebands (upper or lower) causes impermissible interference to a first adjacent FM station and the other does not. In that case, we can determine if your station can operate using asymmetrical sidebands. We have filed for stations to operate using asymmetrical sidebands where one sideband operates at -11 dBc and the other operates at -10 dBc. Therefore, just because a first adjacent FM station may operate nearby, it’s not necessarily true that one or both of your station’s sidebands are restricted to only -14 dBc.
What does my station's coverage look like?
There are many reasons to know the answer to this question. Is there an area of interest that your station does not cover? A coverage map will identify this. Are you trying to sell your station or find out what it is worth? Do you know the counties your station covers and how far along the Interstate the coverage is predicted? Do you know the signal strengths of your coverage area and where the signal starts to fade out along the fringes? Coverage maps answer all these questions and many more. Many of our clients request coverage maps so that they can post them on their station’s Web site. If someone calls in and asks if they are located within the coverage area of your station, you can refer them to the coverage map on your Web site. Coverage maps are great tools for determining if the cable headends are located within your station’s coverage area.
How many people does my station serve?
Knowing the population, area and demographics that your station serves is very important and we have U.S Census databases from 1990 through 2010 (released every 10 years). We can determine how many people and what percentage of people are served in each county. When filing applications, it is often required to include population counts since the FCC is always concerned with the impact proposed stations have on the public and if it is in the public’s best interest.
What type of antenna should I use?
It is very important to know the answer to this question. Do you need a directional antenna or a non-directional antenna? Do you need a horizontally polarized antenna or should you go with vertical, circular or elliptical? How much antenna gain do you need so that you don’t have to buy a larger transmitter? Should you buy a panel antenna or should it be a slot, batwing or some other type? What power rating does your antenna need and what weather conditions will it withstand? Does the antenna need a radome? What is the maximum weight of the antenna that the tower can hold (tower analysis required). How much electrical beam tilt and null-fill should the antenna have? Should you consider mechanical tilt? Does the antenna require a power divider with an uneven split? There are many questions that must be answered before purchasing an antenna?
What antenna height should I used?
The FCC has rules specifying maximum power and height limits but it is very important to verify that your station will have line of site and that there will be no terrain shielding at the proposed antenna height. Many factors are involved including tower space, antenna size, type of service, effective radiated power, and transmission line. This question should be one of the first questions answered during the planning phase. Typically, antenna height is better than power.
Can you calculate the best beam tilt and null-fill for my antenna?
Yes, we have provided this service to many clients and it is highly recommended prior to purchasing a new antenna. It is important to determine the target areas within a station’s coverage area and if beam tilt and null-fill are not considered, it is possible that the most important coverage areas will be missed due to beam overshoot or because a null in the elevation pattern fell right over the area of interest.
Can you perform studies to see if my station can increase power?
Yes. We use the exact same Longley-Rice TV interference and spacing analysis software that the FCC uses. Therefore, we are able to maximize the power of your station to its fullest without having to worry about exceeding the FCC’s impermissible interference threshold.
What is a GSA map?
It is a map showing the GSA (“Geographical Service Area”) of an EBS (“Educational Broadband Service”) (formerly ITFS (Instructional Television Fixed Service)) or BRS (“Broadband Radio Service”) (formerly MDS (Multipoint Distribution Service)/ MMDS (Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service)) station. This is the area within which the licensee can operate (transmit / receive), with certain limitations, and generally expect interference-free operation. We can provide population counts within GSAs, which are commonly used for valuation of the station, usually for the purpose of a sale or lease agreement.
Can KGA manage or administer my project?
Yes! We can handle your project from start to finish, from Project Conception through Closeout. Or more fully, from project conception/design and kick-off, through preparation of bidding specification documents (if required) and acceptance tests, advertising and distributing the bid documents, holding the pre-bid meeting, touring the site(s) with bidders (if required), responding to bidder questions, issuing addenda as needed, holding the bid opening, evaluation of all bids received, bid award recommendation, progress inspection(s) and final inspection through project closeout.
What levels are safe exposure for RF energy?
Exposure standards for radiofrequency energy have been developed by various organizations and countries. These standards recommend safe levels of exposure for both the general public and for workers. In the United States, the FCC has adopted and used recognized safety guidelines for evaluating RF environmental exposure since 1985. Federal health and safety agencies, such as the EPA, FDA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have also been involved in monitoring and investigating issues related to RF exposure. The exposure guidelines are based on thresholds for known adverse effects, and they incorporate prudent margins of safety. The threshold level is a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value for the whole body of 4 watts per kilogram (4 W/kg). In addition, guidelines for maximum permissible exposure are different for different transmitting frequencies. This is due to the finding that whole-body human absorption of RF energy varies with the frequency of the RF signal. The most restrictive limits on whole-body exposure are in the frequency range of 30-300 MHz where the human body absorbs RF energy most efficiently when the whole body is exposed. For devices that only expose part of the body, such as mobile phones, different exposure limits are specified.
Does the FCC monitor radio frequencty radiation from antennas?
The FCC does not have the resources or the personnel to routinely monitor the emissions for all of the thousands of transmitters that are subject to FCC jurisdiction. However, the FCC does have measurement instrumentation for evaluating RF levels in areas that may be accessible to the public or to workers. If there is evidence of potential non-compliance with FCC exposure guidelines for an FCC-regulated facility, staff from the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology or the Enforcement Bureau can conduct an investigation, and, if appropriate, perform actual measurements. It should be emphasized that the FCC does not perform RF exposure investigations unless there is a reasonable expectation that the FCC exposure limits may be exceeded.
Can I increase AM coverage using FM translators?
Yes. The FCC recently adopted rules that allow AM stations to use currently authorized FM translator stations to retransmit their AM service within their AM stations current coverage areas. The FCC implemented the new rules so that AM broadcasters could better serve their local communities and promote localism, competition, and diversity.
How far does my broadcast signal reach?
The answer to this question depends on many factors. A station’s effective radiated power, antenna height, beam-tilt and location all play a part in how far your station’s signal will reach. Surrounding terrain, interference from other stations, noise levels, multipath, environmental conditions, and many other factors also impact a station’s coverage. We have state of the art propagation software that takes all these factors into consideration so that you will know your station’s predicted coverage area and field strengths.
Can my station change channels?
The answer to this question is “maybe.”, if there is justification for changing channels, then we can file to request a channel change for your DTV station. If you facility is an FM station, then you can change to a 1st, 2nd or 3rd adjacent channel or intermediate frequency (IF) at any time; however, any other channel change would be considered a major modification and would require an FCC window opening.
Can my station move to another tower?
The answer to this question is “maybe.” For example, if you change locations, will your station still meet its FCC community of license requirements? How many people currently receiving coverage from your station would no longer receive it after your station moved? Can the new tower support your station’s antenna and will there be sufficient space and cooling in the transmitter building for your station’s transmitter? Will the change in location result in new interference to other stations? If the answers to these questions are favorable, then there is a good chance that your station could move to another tower.
What is my station's signal level at the Cable Headend?
If your station’s signal at the cable headend is not strong enough, the cable company will not be obligated to carry your station’s signal. We have state of the art propagation software that calculates your station’s signal level at the cable headend or we can actually travel to the site and take “real world” measurements to determine if your station’s signal meets the FCC’s minimum signal threshold for must-carry.
What is Narrowbanding?
Narrowbanding is an effort to ensure more efficient use of the VHF and UHF spectrum by requiring all VHF and UHF Public Safety and Industrial/Business land mobile radio (LMR) systems to migrate to at least 12.5 kHz efficiency technology by January 1, 2013. More specifically, all existing Part 90 radio systems operating in the 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz bands have until January 1, 2013 to convert those systems either to a maximum bandwidth of 12.5 kHz or to a technology that provides at least one voice path per 12.5 kHz of bandwidth or equivalent efficiency.
What does equvalent efficiency mean?
Any of the following meet the 12.5 kHz equivalent efficiency requirement:
- One voice path in a 12.5 kHz channel
- Two voice paths in a 25 kHz channel
- Data operations on channels greater than 12.5 KHz must employ data rates greater than 4.8 kbps per 6.25 kHz channel, such as 19.2 kbps per 25 kHz channel.
What is the purpose of narrowbanding?
Currently, the majority of UHF and VHF land mobile radio (LMR) licensees operate using 25 kHz efficiency technology. However, the UHF and VHF frequency bands are congested with limited spectrum available for system expansion or implementation of new systems. The migration to 12.5 kHz efficiency technology will require licensees to operate more efficiently, either on narrower channel bandwidths or increased voice paths on existing channels. This will allow creation of additional channels within the same spectrum, thereby supporting more users.
What frequency bands are subject to the narrowbanding mandate?
The 150-174 MHz and 421-512 MHz bands are subject to the Narrowbanding mandate.
Can I continue to operate at 25 kHz after January 1, 2013
No. Licensees are prohibited from operating 25 kHz efficiency equipment after January 1, 2013. Non-compliance will be considered a violation that could lead to FCC enforcement action, which may include admonishment, monetary fines, or loss of license.
If I need narrowband, do I need to implement digital technology?
No. Licensees can operate in either analog or digital formats as long as they operate at 12.5 kHz efficiency.
Does narrowbanding require me to change frequencies or obtain new channels?
No. Narrowbanding does not require moving to another frequency band or different channels. Licensees stay on the same channel center(s), but reduce the bandwidth of the channel(s) currently used, from 25 kHz to 12.5 kHz and change the emission designator on the license. Alternatively, licensees may stay on the same 25 kHz channel but implement a 12.5 kHz equivalent technology on that channel.
Will I lose coverage area when I narrowband?
It has been estimated that Narrowband compliance can result in a 3 dB loss in signal strength. However, this rule of thumb is based upon a “plain vanilla” Narrowbanding scenario where a 25 kHz analog system converts to a 12.5 kHz analog system. We can give you a better estimate of how Narrowbanding will affect your particular system.
What Census database do you use for population studies?
Believe it or not, the FCC recently changed from a 2000 U.S. Census database to a 2010 U.S. Census database for most of its broadcast studies. Therefore, we have U.S. Census databases ranging from 1990 through 2020 (released every 10 years). We use the required FCC databases for all of our studies but we also offer the latest databases for our clients when more “real-world” numbers are needed.
Do you design communication systems?
Yes. KGA has been designing communications systems for almost 50 years and specializes in designing virtually all communications systems (broadcast, microwave, wireless). When designing a communications system, it is critical to have an understanding of all the components involved which includes, but is not limited to, the need for support structures, shelters, technical specifications, topography studies, line-of-site analyses, interference studies, regulatory compliance, equipment, safety, reliability, climate familiarity and understanding, time lines, testing, designing, mapping, bidding, evaluating, awarding, permitting, grounding, soil analyses, surveys, financial management, contingencies, security, RFR exposure studies and inspections while focusing on our client’s primary goal.
Do you prepare FAA applications?
Yes. We prepare and electronically file FAA form 7460-1 applications requesting notice of no hazard to air navigation determinations for our client’s towers and we also prepare and electronically file FAA form 7460-2 applications notifying the FAA when tower construction has been either completed or when it has reached it highest height. FAA applications are required for new towers (prior to building) but they are also required when tower modifications, such as painting or lighting changes, are proposed.
Do I need an environmental assessment for my tower?
The environmental notification process applies to new tower registrations and to certain modifications of registered towers that may have a significant environmental effect. The process for submitting an Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) application that is subject to environmental notification involves two parts.
Part 1 requires the applicant to submit a partially completed Form 854 in the ASR system as well as information regarding the proposed lighting of the tower. After submitting the partially completed Form 854, the applicant is required to provide local notice of the proposed tower registration by publication in a local newspaper or by other means. Members of the public will have an opportunity to file a request for further environmental review. After approximately 40 days, if the appropriate Bureau has determined that the application does not require additional environmental processing, the applicant will be able to complete Part 2. Part 2 may not be completed until the Bureau has determined that no further environmental processing is required.
Part 2 requires the applicant to amend the Form 854 to provide the FAA Study Number and Issue Date, provide the local notice date, and certify that the tower will have no significant environmental impact. At this point, if all required information has been provided, the Form 854 will be deemed complete and can be processed accordingly.
What types of filings require an environmental notification?
The environmental notification process applies to the following types of filings that are submitted in the Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) system.
1) All new tower registrations
2) Modifications to existing tower registrations
3) Amendments to pending applications outlined in 1 and 2 above
Can KGA run intermodulation studies?
Yes. We have in-house software that predicts the possible occurrence of intermodulation products that may cause receiver interference generated by multiple transmitters on the same or nearby antenna support structure. It is becoming routine for multiple licensees to share communications towers and broadband antennas. Shared site operations may cause harmful interference to each other through transmitter and receiver intermodulation, harmonic interference, transmitter noise, receiver desensitization, and/or spurious interference. Since the interference situation changes whenever a radio system is added to a site, a new intermodulation interference analysis should be performed to assess the impact of the new system on existing users at the site.
What is the first stpen in obtaining a microwave license?
Once the site has been identified, the path profiles have been completed, the antenna heights have been determined, the proposed equipment has been identified and the approximate equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) has been calculated, the next step toward obtaining a license for your microwave system is to conduct prior coordination and frequency coordination. Once the coordination is complete, an FCC application can be filed with the FCC requesting a license. It is recommended to never purchase equipment until an FCC authorization has been issued.
Where should our towers be located for optimum coverage?
In an ideal world, towers would be located at the highest elevation above mean sea level (AMSL). Of course, this is not always possible due to codes, regulations, property restrictions, etc. Location of the tower at a point of high elevation is necessary to reduce to a minimum the shadow effect on propagation due to hills and buildings which may reduce materially the strength of the station’s signals. In general, the tower of a station should be located at the most central point at the highest elevation available. To provide the best degree of service to an area, it is usually preferable to use high elevation with less power rather than low elevation with increased transmitter power. The location should be so chosen that line-of-sight can be obtained from the antenna over the principal community to be served; in no event should there be a major obstruction in this path. Topography, shape of the desired service area, and population distribution may make the choice of a transmitter location difficult. In such cases, consideration may be given to the use of a directional antenna system, although it is generally preferable to choose a site where a nondirectional antenna may be employed. To optimize coverage for multiple tower sites, you will want your towers to be located in areas such that the coverage from each site has overlap for seamless operation (assuming frequencies are not the same).
What is Distributed Transmission systems (DTS)?
A DTV station authorized to operate multiple synchronized transmitters on its assigned channel. DTV stations operating a Distributed Transmission System (DTS) facility must comply with all rules applicable to DTV single-transmitter stations.
Does KGA prepare satellite applications?
Yes. The Commission requires FCC Form 312 to be electronically filed when applying for all authorizations relating to satellite earth and space station facilities, and to notify the Commission of changes to these facilities in cases where prior Commission approval is not required. KGA prepares FCC satellite applications primarily for the following cases:
- When applying for a license for a new earth or space station(s)
- When applying for registration of a domestic receive-only earth station(s)
- When applying for a modification to a licensed earth or space stations
- When seeking Commission consent to an assignment or transfer of control of a licensed earth or space station(s)
- When notifying the Commission of a minor modification to a licensed earth or space station
- When notifying the Commission of an assignment or transfer of control of a registered domestic receive-only earth station(s)
- When filing an amendment to a pending earth or space station application(s).
Can you design two-way communication systems?
Yes. We have designed many two-way communications systems for our clients over the years and our design service is a complete package that will cover all your communications needs. We will assess your needs, design your communications system from scratch or in conjunction with any existing system, and implement it for your company.
Is my microwave path free of obstructions?
It may not be. We have the ability to run path profile studies from our office or we can make a site visit and conduct a “real-world” path profile to ensure that your system has line of site clearance throughout the entire path.
Does my station need a booster?
A booster station may only operate on the same frequency or channel as the primary station. Booster stations are essentially “fill-in” translator stations on the same frequency as the main station and provide supplementary service to areas in which direct reception of service is unsatisfactory due to distance or intervening terrain barriers. If your station is having problems covering areas within its authorized protected contour, then a booster station may be the answer.
What do I do if my coordinates are incorrect?
We have found this to be a common issue with many stations. It is extremely important to correct coordinates as soon as it has been determined that they are incorrect. It is important to verify that your station’s coordinates are correct. Incorrect coordinates can result in FCC fines and even worse, aircraft accidents due to tower mislabeling on aeronautical charts. If the coordinates are incorrect in the FAA database, then it is important to file an application with the FAA immediately. Applications to the FCC will also be required to update the station’s license or construction permit and the station’s antenna structure registration (ASR). We can take care of making all the corrections, updates, modifications and licensing required.
My station is operating at less than the authorized power; what do I do?
If your station is operating at less than authorized power or at variance to any authorized parameters, it is important to notify the FCC as soon as possible by letter within ten days or via a Special Temporary Authorization (STA) application if exceeding thirty days.
Do your interference study calculations match the FCC's?
Yes. The interference percentages calculated by KGA are exactly the same as the FCC calculations since our studies are calculated using the same type computers and the same interference analysis software as the FCC. KGA is highly proficient using the following propagation models: Longley-Rice (Irregular Terrain Model), FCC Contour Model (FCM), Terrain Integrated Rough Earth Model (TIREM), Line of Sight/Shadow, FM Point-To-Point (V1 & V2), Okumura/Hata and COST-231-Hata. The most common model used for clients with respect to coverage is Longley-Rice and the most common model used for clients with respect to contours and contour overlap determination is the FCC Contour Model since both models are used by the FCC and fully comply with FCC Rules.
Do I need to license my wireless micorphones?
Technically, the answer is yes if you are a broadcaster using wireless microphones; however, the requirement has not been strictly enforced. We recommend licensing your wireless microphones so that they will receive FCC protection from the new unlicensed white-space devices that are now authorized to operate in the same band.
What happens if my Antenns Structure Registration (ASR) is incorrect?
We have found this to be a common issue with many clients. We can modify your station’s ASR if you find any of the administrative information to be incorrect or if the tower information is incorrect. Since the FCC fines stations with incorrect ASRs; we recommend sooner rather than later.
Does KGA do both Commercial and Non-Commercial projects?
Yes we do. We have hundreds on commercial and non-commercial clients and have provided professional engineering to both the commercial and non-commercial sectors for almost 50 years.
Can I lease out some of my stations spectrum for revenue?
Yes. If you are operating your digital television (DTV) or digital FM (HD Radio) with multiple channels, then the FCC will allow you to lease one or more of your sub-channels for revenue as long as certain requirements are met.