“Attempt to Pass AM for Every Vehicle Act in Senate Falls Short”

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(Source: Radio World via Dennis Dura)

Attempt to Pass AM for Every Vehicle Act in Senate Falls Short

Sen. Rand Paul objected, saying “mandating that all cars have AM radio is antithetical”

A maneuver by Senate sponsors of the “AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act” to pass the bill by avoiding a vote of the full Senate this week has fallen short.

The push to use “unanimous consent” to pass the bill was led by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Edward Markey (D-MA) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). However, (R-KY) objected to its passage.

“Mandating that all cars have AM radio is antithetical to any notion of limited government,” Sen. Paul said on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

Paul said there is irony in seeing Republicans come to the floor to pass bills that place mandates upon American businesses, “therefore picking winners and losers.” [Continue reading…]

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16 thoughts on ““Attempt to Pass AM for Every Vehicle Act in Senate Falls Short”

  1. Mike N7MSD

    Since yet again no one else is stepping up to state the other side of the argument, I will:

    There is NOTHING on broadcast radio I want to listen to: churches, Spanish, pop & country. Same as when I was young. ICK!! The antenna connection on my car is broken and it won’t receive broadcast and I haven’t bothered to fix it. It WILL receive XM (satellite) but I’m not paying for it. If I want to listen to anything, I’ll just do it over cellular or download & take it with me.

    You talk about emergencies but the fact is if there are probably a lot of people like me who won’t get them because the garbage on the radio isn’t worth keeping the equipment up, much less paying for!

    Its true to don’t live in an area subject to much natural disasters, so I’m a bit spoiled on that.

    As for the original DTV (ATSC-1 here), that wasn’t by the mobile cell phone carriers but by Hollyweird! They wanted something with DRM (copy block)! Phone companies didn’t realize they needed all that bandwidth until the iPhone showed them what was possible–the network tech was woefully unprepared! The mad dash for spectrum like land rush was the direct result of this and is pushing TV out because streaming is SO MUCH BETTER! If you don’t believe this, you either have a bad connection or are a technophobe. (There is also the deterioration as everything is fragmenting, but that is Hollyweird BS again pushing people back to piracy!)

    As for Mangosman’s comment about broadcast tech, I say again: if no one wants to listen to what’s being broadcast, it won’t matter. Audio streams take up such little bandwidth it doesn’t matter to LTE (4G) or New Radio (5G) systems, but less 6G. Video does which is what LTE was specialized for, while NR is Internet of Things (multi thousands of low bandwidth packet devices per km2!).

    You talk about rural area of Africa, LatAm, etc: Fixed Wireless Access is rapidly expanding there as much as here. At WRC-23 there is a big fight between satellite based radars and weather monitors (which need a quiet band) and the carriers over more mmWave spectrum, and GSMA recently posted about TeraHertz (THz) links to the end user, something which surprised even me!

    Bottom line: other than war zones, everything is moving to streaming one way or another, and none of the arguments to keep AM / MW hold water. I know that makes a lot of people here mad, but it has to be said.

  2. ThaDood

    Actually, I see Rand Paul’s point. We shouldn’t force a company in America to do this, but it should be a consumer-based demand. Suggest, but not force. Well folks, it’s up to us then to do so.

    1. mangosman

      This does not work. HDradio and simulcasting with digital and analog does not drive enough sales to drop the prices of receivers to a similar price to the original analog. HDradio started 21 years ago and there are no pure digital broadcasts in the FM band and only one low powered digital only broadcaster in the medium frequency band.
      For the decade prior to 2009 it was illegal to import or manufacture non digital capable TV receivers. Then in 2009 NTSC (Never Twice the Same Colour) remember the Hue control? was switched off for ever. Now peoples’ skin is almost always the right hue commenced with digital TV. Who would want to go back to the narrow width images, with coloured ghosts, cross colour patterning and mono sound?
      This switchover was pushed through the politicians and the FCC by the telco industry wanting TV frequencies to increase their profits. The radio broadcasters should push the switch to pure digital radio to drastically reducing their costs where up to 18 programs can be transmitted by a single modified FM transmitter, have the same coverage area day and night as well as preventing the production of lots of carbon dioxide. Now that there is a very cheap DRM receiver module there is no excuse but to legislate that all devices that the listeners use to hear programs must be capable of DRM reception. This includes phones and smart speakers. Wireless broadband uses a lot more electricity than DRM broadcasts. Analog will only be in the museums in 10 years if this occurs. That’s what TV did in the USA.

      1. qwertyamdx

        “Cheap module” but the receivers are $300+ and available only from Chinese sites. Looks like DRM is the only broadcasting system where the receivers are getting more and more expensive each year. And that’s despite the fact that the list of stations which use DRM has been steadily shrinking since a decade with only a handful remaining until today.

  3. mangosman

    The only groups to buy spectrum in recent years is the telcos. They want UHF (300 MHz to 3 GHz) and SHF 3 – 30 GHz and above. High speed 5G requires 37 – 37 GHz band to get the required bandwidth for the high speeds which can be offered. Current 5G is often the closed down 2G and soon 3G bands. They are faster than 4G because there are fewer simultaneous users. A 300 MHz signal requires an antenna must be 500 mm long so will not fit into a phone! In addition they don’t want large coverage area radius because they cannot re use the same channel for another user in the vicinity. If a signal is from an adjacent cell it is detected by the time it takes for a transmitted signal to return.

    Digital TV has abandoned 47 -88 MHz band worldwide because of large antennas and increased impulse interference. The telcos don’t want this frequency range either, This frequency range was used for the first FM broadcasts. It would be ideal for Digital Radio Mondiale which is a pure digital signal which can transmit as many channels you like using consecutive channels without interference. Particularly since the band is vacant.
    As for the Medium Frequency band used for ‘AM’ is plagued by impulse interference which is getting worse due to switch-mode power supplies in nearly every electrically powered devices and arcing electricity line insulators. Ferrite rod antennas are too big, heavy and brittle to fit in a phone.
    In addition these frequencies can travel long distances which causes interference, phasing distortion at night and of course no stereo sound and no high pitched sounds.

  4. Bruce Kendall VK3WL

    Yet another example of politicians sans technical knowledge about a topic, making decisions they cannot appreciate the impact of. It’s not just the USA, but large continents and land masses like Australia, Africa, South America, and the Middle East, where there is not an FM radio transmitter or 5G mobile telephone tower on every second hill top to broadcast reliable emergency communications to the public.

  5. Walter

    I roll my eyes whenever Rand Paul opens his trap. I learned all about him during the COVID epidemic. As a health professional, he’s a wing-nut, pure and simple, and don’t get me started on how off-based he is on supporting Ukraine (and the free world) against Russian aggression.

    1. Steve

      Big Tech and Big Communications aren’t interested in this spectrum. Long run (with a change to international treaties) I could see the spectrum going to the hams.

  6. Dave Mason

    Early childhood recollections are of a blank dashboard in a vehicle that could have a radio in it (AM Only) but didn’t. My 2005 BMW 5-Series had a $500 Sirius option which I never exercised. It came free for 3 months with my 2018 Toyota. I’m sure that those who subscribe are contributing a few pennies to the car-maker as well as Sirius/XM itself which makes the point of including “free” AM radio (and FM for that matter) moot. Not sure what Rand Paul’s agenda is, but the attempt to make AM radio a mandate in corporate 2023 is-no doubt-an exercise in futility.

  7. mangosman

    In 2009 the telcos got the Government to mandate all TV had to be ATSC1.0 digital. So why not radio to go digital? AM is very wasteful of electricity because the carrier contains no sound. How much green house gasses are being produced and what is the electricity costing.

    Elon Musk is changing from the internal combustion engine to a digitally controlled electric motor. So why can’t radio go pure digital. One modified FM transmitter can carry up to 18 sound programs in 600 kHz in the vacant TV channels 2 – 6. The transmitter power required is less than an FM transmitter carrying only one program. It can also carry emergency warnings, multiple road block locations to reroute the driver, maps and detailed instructions for multiple simultaneous emergencies. There is no requirement to reduce power at night.

    In addition the sound quality in stereo with the missing high frequencies but lacking interference and noise. This will not require any changes to existing broadcasts which following the TV example can be switched off in 10 years.

    1. mangosman

      The DRM specification includes the HF broadcasting bands. It is easy to provide in the Software Designed Radio technology. The biggest issue will be the antenna on the vehicle. The shark fin antenna is only 10s of mm long followed by a high gain amplifier. Strong interfering signals at lower frequencies will modulate the wanted signal in the high gain broadband amplifier and cannot be removed. It would not occur if a much longer antenna is mounted on the vehicle followed by a tuned RF amplifier inside the radio.

  8. Rob W4ZNG

    Direct cut-and-paste from the article:
    “… led by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Edward Markey (D-MA) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). However, (R-KY) objected to its passage.”

    I think they’re taking this He Who Shall Not Be Named business a bit too far.


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