Category Archives: Space Weather

“Cannibal CME” to hit Earth during early hours of March 31, 2022

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who writes:

Readers of the SWLing Post blog might be interested in leaning that a “Cannibal CME” is approaching Earth. The Wikipedia page about the Carrington Event says it was probably 2 CME’s in rapid succession -like this description from SpaceWx of what’s coming:

Estimated time of arrival: March 31st

Space Weather News for March 29, 2022
https://spaceweather.com
https://www.spaceweatheralerts.com

A ‘CANNIBAL CME’ IS APPROACHING EARTH: A strong G3-class geomagnetic storm is possible later this week when a ‘Cannibal CME’ hits Earth’s magnetic field. It’s a ‘cannibal’ because it ate one of its own kind en route to our planet. The mash-up of two CMEs could spark naked-eye auroras visible from northern-tier US states. Full story @ Spaceweather.com ( https://spaceweather.com).

Thank you for the tip, Ed! 

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Radio Waves: RNZ & TVNZ Merging, Tech Keeping Ukrainians in Touch, Solar Storms Documentary, and Aspidistra

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


RNZ and TVNZ to merge (RadioInfo)

New Zealand’s Minister for Broadcasting and Media Kris Faafoi has announced the government’s decision to create a new public media entity by merging RNZ and TVNZ.

According to Faafoi, ensuring New Zealanders continue to have access to reliable, trusted, independent information and local content sits at the heart of the decision.

“The public media sector is extremely important to New Zealanders in providing them with high quality, independent, timely and relevant media content,” Faafoi said.

“But we know the media landscape is changing and the sector is having to adapt to increased competition, changing audience demands and ways of accessing media, falling revenue, and new and emerging digital platforms. We need public media which is responsive to these changes and can flourish.

“RNZ and TVNZ are each trying to adjust to the challenges, but our current public media system, and the legislation it’s based on, is focused on radio and television.

“New Zealanders are among some of the most adaptive audiences when it comes to accessing content in different ways; like their phones rather than television and radio, and from internet-based platforms. We must be sure our public media can adapt to those audience changes, as well as other challenges that media will face in the future.”

“The new public media entity will be built on the best of both RNZ and TVNZ, which will initially become subsidiaries of the new organisation. It will continue to provide what existing audiences value, such as RNZ Concert, as well as better reaching those groups who aren’t currently well served; such as our various ethnic communities and cultures,” Faafoi said[…]

Read more at: https://radioinfo.com.au/news/rnz-and-tvnz-to-merge/ © RadioInfo Australia

Technologies old and new keep Ukrainians in touch with the world (The Economist)

Battery radios and satellite internet both have jobs to do

In communist Eastern Europe a shortwave radio was a vital piece of equipment for anyone wanting to stay ahead of the censors. Stations such as the bbc World Service, Radio Free Europe and Voice of America broadcast news, entertainment and rock-and-roll across the Iron Curtain.

After the cold war ended, shortwave radios gave way to television and the internet, and the broadcasts were wound down. But on March 3rd, in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the bbc announced their return. The World Service has begun nightly news broadcasts into Ukraine and parts of Russia (see map). Continue reading

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Radio Waves: Mazdas Stuck On KUOW, Golden Age of Radio, Russian SW Broadcasts to Arctic, FCC Cleans Up Rules, and Starlink Loses 40 Satellites to Geo Storm

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Much thanks to the many contributors who shared the following items:


You’re listening to KUOW … like it or not: Mysterious glitch has Mazda drivers stuck on public radio (Geekwire)

Drivers of certain vehicles in Seattle and other parts of Western Washington are shouting at their car radios this week. Not because of any particular song or news item that’s being broadcast, but because an apparent technical glitch has caused the radios to be stuck on public radio station KUOW.

The impacted drivers appear to all be owners of Mazda vehicles from between 2014 and 2017. In some cases the in-car infotainment systems have stopped working altogether, derailing the ability to listen to the radio at all or use Bluetooth phone connections, GPS, the rear camera and more.

According to Mazda drivers who spoke with GeekWire, and others in a Reddit thread discussing the dilemma, everyone who has had an issue was listening to KUOW 94.9 in recent weeks when the car systems went haywire.

KUOW sounded unsure of a possible cause; at least one dealership service department blamed 5G; and Mazda told GeekWire in an official. [Continue reading…]

The real reason the 1930s were considered ‘the golden age of radio’ (The Grunge)

While it’s been widely contested who actually invented the first radio (both Italian physicist Gugliemo Marconi and Serbian-American inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla were fighting for the first patent, per PBS), it was Marconi who came out top in 1904, when the U.S. Patent Office officially dubbed him the inventor of the new breakthrough technology. According to APM Reports, in 1920, Americans had their first commercially licensed radio station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: KDKA. That number quickly rose after KDKA broadcast the election that saw Warren G. Harding become the 29th president, and by 1924, 500 stations were available for listening.

By 1930, over “40% of American households owned a radio,” per APM Reports. This became known as “The Golden Age of Radio.” As revealed by PBS, in 1930, 12 million Americans owned radios — growing to a whopping 28 million by the end of the decade.

Access to the radio came at a turbulent time in history. As the Great Depression caused widespread suffering for millions of Americans (via History), the households that could afford a radio saw it as a welcome source of entertainment and news that made them feel connected to the rest of the country. These days, with over 15,445 radio stations available in the U.S., it’s clear the radio still remains relevant, but its impact on society truly began nine decades ago. Let’s take a look at the real reason the 1930s were considered “The Golden Age of Radio.” [Continue reading…]

Russia initiates cross-border radio broadcast in North’s languages (Russian News Agency – TASS)

ST. PETERSBURG, February 7. /TASS/. The International Consortium for the Preservation of Arctic Cultural Heritage, based at the Russian State Hydrometeorology University (RSHU), initiated a cross-border radio broadcast in languages of the North’s indigenous peoples, the university’s representative in Moscow Andrei Bryksenkov told TASS.

An application for the broadcast has been filed with the Arctic Council. “The application must be filed from two countries, and we plan to go along with Norway – with the Sami Radio, which is a part of Norway’s big television and radio concern. <…> The idea has been supported at all levels. As for the cross-border broadcast, we, probably, will begin from the shortwave broadcast, as it covers bigger territories and is less costly,” he said.

At the initial stage, the pilot broadcast will be organized on the territories of Finland, Norway and Russia. The project’s initiators are ready to cooperate with other countries. “One transmitter in Krasnoyarsk may cover 80% of the Russian North. Norway has such a transmitter, which covers the Scandinavian territory. Another two transmitters are on Alaska,” he continued. Later on, the broadcast will be also on middle and long waves, thus one frequency will carry 3-4 channels, he added. One of them will be in Russian and English, and the rest – in languages of the indigenous peoples.

The audience will learn about traditions, skills of the peoples living in the North. The content will fully focus on culture. The countries, participating in the project, will open newsrooms. “We hope the general center, which will coordinate the project, will be at the Arctic Council,” he said.

The International Consortium for the Preservation of Arctic Cultural Heritage includes St. Petersburg’s committee on the Arctic, the Arctic museum and exhibition center in St. Petersburg, the Association of indigenous low-numbered peoples of the North, Siberia and Far East, and others. [Read full article…]

FCC Is ‘Cleaning Up’ Of More Radio Rules. Here Is What Will (And Will Not) Change. (Inside Radio)

The modernization of radio’s regulatory rulebook that began under the prior administration continues at the Federal Communications Commission. It is slated to approve a half dozen changes at the Commission’s February meeting, in what Chair Jessica Rosenworcel says is a “cleaning up” of the broadcast radio rules.

“The Commission’s current rules for full-power and translator radio stations contain a number of provisions that are redundant, outdated, or in conflict with other rules,” said Rosenworcel. She said the proposal would “update and clean up” those provisions “in order to reduce any potential confusion, alleviate unnecessary burdens, and make sure our rules reflect the latest technical requirements.”

The proposed order (MB Docket No. 21-263) would update six rules, while scrap plans to change another. They include –

Eliminate Transmitter Power Limit Rule For AMs.

The draft order says the FCC has tentatively concluded the rule is “outdated and unnecessary” given its current reliance on actual operating antenna input power as the most accurate and effective means of ensuring that AM stations adhere to their authorized power limits. The FCC also agreed with comments filed by the National Association of Broadcasters that said the elimination of the technical restriction will allow AMs of any class to use transmitters of any rated power. That, it says, will benefit all AMs by broadening the market of transmitters, enhancing the secondary market for AM transmitters, and reducing the number of transmitters that need to be disposed of.

Clarify AM Fill-in Area Definition

The FCC is poised to amend the definition of an “AM fill-in area” used when an FM translator simulcasts an AM station. [Continue reading…]

Geomagnetic storm and recently deployed Starlink satellites (SpaceX Blog)

On Thursday, February 3 at 1:13 p.m. EST, Falcon 9 launched 49 Starlink satellites to low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Falcon 9’s second stage deployed the satellites into their intended orbit, with a perigee of approximately 210 kilometers above Earth, and each satellite achieved controlled flight.

SpaceX deploys its satellites into these lower orbits so that in the very rare case any satellite does not pass initial system checkouts it will quickly be deorbited by atmospheric drag. While the low deployment altitude requires more capable satellites at a considerable cost to us, it’s the right thing to do to maintain a sustainable space environment.

Unfortunately, the satellites deployed on Thursday were significantly impacted by a geomagnetic storm on Friday. These storms cause the atmosphere to warm and atmospheric density at our low deployment altitudes to increase. In fact, onboard GPS suggests the escalation speed and severity of the storm caused atmospheric drag to increase up to 50 percent higher than during previous launches. The Starlink team commanded the satellites into a safe-mode where they would fly edge-on (like a sheet of paper) to minimize drag—to effectively “take cover from the storm”—and continued to work closely with the Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron and LeoLabs to provide updates on the satellites based on ground radars.

Preliminary analysis show the increased drag at the low altitudes prevented the satellites from leaving safe-mode to begin orbit raising maneuvers, and up to 40 of the satellites will reenter or already have reentered the Earth’s atmosphere. The deorbiting satellites pose zero collision risk with other satellites and by design demise upon atmospheric reentry—meaning no orbital debris is created and no satellite parts hit the ground. This unique situation demonstrates the great lengths the Starlink team has gone to ensure the system is on the leading edge of on-orbit debris mitigation. [Read at SpaceX…]


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February 2, 2022: A low-hazard CME could bring auroras to low latitudes and affect HF propagation

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who shares the following news from Spaceweather.com:

GEOMAGNETIC STORM WATCH: A coronal mass ejection (CME) is heading for Earth. Estimated time of arrival: Feb. 2nd. This movie from SOHO shows the halo CME leaving the sun:

It was hurled into space during the early hours of Jan. 30th by an M1-class solar flare. Big sunspot AR2936 was the source of the blast. The long duration flare lasted more than 4 hours, so it put plenty of power into the CME.

A newly-released forecast model from NOAA shows the likely timing of impact:

Continue reading and follow updates at Spaceweather.com.

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Radio Waves: Pocket SSB Transceiver, Radio On The Bay Event, New Book on History of Spaceweather, and PSK31 on 437 MHz from the Moon

The uSDX/uSDR QRP transceiver (Chinese version)

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


Ham Radio SSB Transceiver Fits in Pocket (Hackaday)

Talking about this Chinese ham radio transceiver requires a veritable flurry of acronyms: HF, SSB, QRP, and SDR to start with. [Paul] does a nice job of unboxing the rig and checking it out. The radio is a clone of a German project and provides a low-power radio with a rechargeable battery. You can see his video about the gear below.

SSB is an odd choice for low power operation, although we wonder if you couldn’t feed digital data in using a mode like PSK31 that has good performance at low power. There are several variations of the radio available and they cost generally less than $200 — sometimes quite a bit less.

There isn’t much on the front of the radio. There are a few buttons, a rotary encoder, and an LCD along with a speaker and microphone built-in. There are ports for power to run the radio if you want to not use the battery and a separate port for battery charging. There are also ports for a key, external microphone and speakers, and audio connections that look like they’d work for digital modes. According to commenters, the radio doesn’t have an internal charging circuit, so you have to be careful what you plug into the charging port. [Continue reading…]

(SIDE NOTE: I have been testing one of the USDX / USDR transceivers (a Chinese version–not the open source homebrew project) over at QRPer.com and have been very displeased with performance. So much so, I returned it for a refund. One of the biggest issues being spurious emissions that were produced in harmonics, but also the receiver is one of the worst I’ve ever tested. -Thomas) Continue reading

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Radio Waves: DAB on UK Smart Speakers, MORE Project, Sun Getting Busy, and RTI’s German special “garners thousands of responses”

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Skip Arey, Mike Hansgen, and David Iurescia for the following tips:


Nobody cares about DAB radio – so let’s force it onto smart speakers, suggests UK govt review (The Register)

Britain’s anti Amazon and Google war gets a second front

The UK may require smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home devices to broadcast UK DAB radio stations, over government fears that Brits aren’t consuming enough of the unloved radio tech.

Under the guise of “protecting UK radio stations’ accessibility” the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published a report calling for smart speakers to rebroadcast domestic radio stations’ output. The recommendation is as follows:

The government to consider regulatory changes to ensure radio stations and radio and audio content can be easily found and is discoverable by users of voice assistant platforms, including smart speakers and in-car infotainment systems.

The call, made in the Ministry of Fun’s Digital Radio and Audio Review, was backed by national broadcaster the BBC and commercial radio groups.

The same report found that 64 per cent of audio on smart speakers is live radio, though smart speaker users make up around 6 per cent of radio listeners at present. Nonetheless, DCMS called for governmental action to enforce the provision of something that’s already provided.

Media minister Julia Lopez said in a canned statement: “We must make sure this treasured medium continues to reach audiences as listening shifts to new technologies and that we have a gradual transition away from FM to protect elderly listeners and those in remote areas.” [Continue reading…]

Interested in getting a U.S. Amateur Radio license? (David Sarnoff Radio Club)

Earlier this year, the IEEE Princeton / Central Jersey Section’s Broadcast Technology Chapter (IEEE PCJS BT) received a generous grant to provide mentoring and equipment that encourages understanding of digital and analog aspects of radio communication, through hands-on activities and explorations. Over the next 2 years, our Make Operating Radio Easier (MORE) Project will be training 500 new U.S. Amateur Radio (“Ham”) operators in small (10 to 15 person) groups. We are especially seeking youth (ages 12-18) and non-males to help increase the demographics for these underrepresented groups on the air, but are currently accepting applicants of all ages (12+) and all genders.

Class sessions are primarily virtual (via Zoom) but may be arranged to be on-site if there is sufficient interest by a school, club or organization (as allowed, given the ongoing health situation). Virtual or in-person FCC amateur license testing sessions will also be arranged (throughout the USA) by our ARRL-certified MORE Project Volunteer Examiner (VE) team. There is no charge for the classes, and ALL testing and licensing fees for participants in the MORE Project are covered by our grant. Trainees in our program will also receive (paid by the MORE Project) a Software Defined Radio USB dongle, a pre-assembled 25-foot longwire receiving antenna, and (after successfully licensing) a hand-held Yaesu 2 Meter (HT) radio. The MORE Project course will provide instruction in the use of this equipment and assistance in Getting On The Air (GOTA) to make radio contacts.

Additional information about the MORE Project, including how to register for a training course, is at n2re.org/m-o-r-e-project and in our IEEE PCJS Call for Participation flyer. Questions should be directed to Dr. Rebecca Mercuri K3RPM at rtmercuri@ieee.org.

Our Sun is About to Get Busy | Solar Storm Forecast 10.25.2021 (Tamitha Skove)

RTI’s German-language special program garners thousands of responses (RTI)

During the third quarter of every year, Radio Taiwan International (RTI) broadcasts a special one-hour radio program via shortwave directly to German-speaking countries. The programs were transmitted over four weekends between July and August. Usually, RTI’s German programs are relayed through Bulgaria.

This year, thanks to conducive weather conditions and precise engineering, RTI’s signal was stronger than in prior years. In response to the program, listeners from 33 countries sent over a thousand reception reports confirming they received the broadcast. According to RTI, it received a record number of reports.

Radio Taiwan International President Chang Cheng says that even though most of the station’s programs are available online, there is still a significant community of people that prefers listening to shortwave radio.

This year, listeners who sent in a reception report for the special one-hour broadcast will receive a limited edition RTI QSL card featuring Taiwan’s iconic Formosan Blue Magpie. RTI says that it is still in the process of responding to all of the listening reports it received.


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Radio Waves: Solar Cycle 25 Looking Up, Vintage Radio Flea Market Finds, the SBITX SDR, and More Power to Radio Caroline

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Eric McFadden, Ken Carr, Mike Terry, Pete Eaton, and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Revised prediction for Solarcycle 25 (Southgate ARC)

A revised prediction from the NASA High Altitude Observatory based at the University Of Colorado.

NASA Heliophysicists have released a revised prediction for Solar Cycle 25.
The report generated by Ricky Egeland a Solar Physicist working in the NASA Space Radiation Analysis Group now calls for the peak of Solar Cycle 25 to top out at a value of 195 ± 17 based upon the new scale for calculating Smoothed Sun Spot Number. For reference Solar Cycle 21 peaked at an SSN 233 (new scale) while Solarcycle 23 peaked at an SSN of 180 (new scale). If this predictions holds up Ham Radio will see Excellent Worldwide F Layer Conditions on 10 Meters for several years around Solar Max. 6 Meters conditions should be good in the Equinox Periods before and after Solar Max with consistent openings on Medium Haul Polar Routes. 6 Meter routes traversing the equator should experience consistent openings ± 9 months from Solar Max.

Ricky Egeland is a particpating member in the group headed up by Scott McIntosh and Bob Leamon that published a paper 9 months ago outlining the existance magnetic bands within the Sun that govern the Sunspot and Hale Cycles. At the time of its publishing the paper went on to predict the peak of Solar Cycle 25 could be as high Solarcycle 21. Today’s released is a revised prediction based upon data observed since the original paper was published. To be sure we are still in early days.

The Solar Rotation Cycle as marked by Sunspot Activity was established on April 19, 2021 so we are only 90 Days into actually observing Cycle 25 Activity. It is now agreed the dramactic run-up in Sunspot Activity we experienced late Last Fall while tied to Cycle 25 was an outlier. When asked directly about whether they can declare if the Terminator Event they wrote about in the Fall 2020 Paper has occurred Scott McIntosh stated “We can’t be sure just yet but we are very very close”. It also should be noted that while it has been over a year since the sun produced a Cycle 24 Region with a Sunspot worthy of a NASA Classification the Sun has been steadily producing Spotless SC 24 Active Regions the last of which formed right on the Solar Equator at N00-W54 on July 24,2021 as recorded by Jan Alvestad’s Solar Terrestial Activity Report Website. These Active Regions being part of a Solarcycle in its final stages of existence produce no spots and only last for a few hours before they dissipate away. The previous SC24 Active Region formed on June 28, 2021. Once the SC24 active regions cease forming Solar Cycle 25 will take off in earnest.

Bob Marston AA6XE

Bob Marston AA6XE email – aa6xe@arrl.net
Ricky Egeland email – egeland@ucar.edu
Scott McIntosh email – mscott@ucar.edu
Bob Leamon via Twitter – https://twitter.com/leamonrj

Flea Market Finds at the Vintage Radio & Communications Museum of Connecticut (KE1RI)

I have an addiction to old radios, especially anything that was manufactured in the 1923-1950 period. That may seem like a long time to some folks but when you gain senior citizen status 25 years is a blink of the eye. This love of old radios is tempered by the limited display space that I have in my home. I am at the point where I am very selective when it comes to buying a new radio. Although there is always room for another ‘small’ radio I am somehow attracted to the larger models. A rough count of the full-size consoles in this house (and garage and shed) comes to about 11. Just in this room (second floor radio shack) there are 5 console radios, two of which reside in the closet. The only surprise is that my wife has not tossed the radios and me out by now.

So, it is no surprise that I enjoy attending radio flea markets. Most of the events I frequent are either in Connecticut or Massachusetts. Rhode Island has very little in the way of antique radio flea markets (although we do have a great wireless and steam museum). And you can forget about eBay. Radios on eBay usually have inflated prices and descriptions. Even if you do find something reasonable the shipping for anything bigger than an All American Five table model is very costly and hazardous (many are damaged during shipping).

This is where the Vintage Radio & Communications Museum of Connecticut (VRCMC) comes in. This is a wonderful museum that has an enormous collection of radios and other communication-related technological wonders. They also hold regular flea markets to help raise funds needed to run the museum. During the cold months the events are inside (limited space) and during warm seasons (April, June, September) they are outside (plenty of space). This year I attended the first Spring event that was held on April 13, 2021. It was a great success! [Click here to continue reading…]

SBITX: Hackable HF SDR for the Raspberry Pi (Hackaday)

Cheap, easy to use SDR dongles are an immensely powerful tool for learning about radio technology. However, building your own SDR is not something too many hackers are confident to tackle. [Ashhar Farhan, VU2ESE] hopes to change this with the sBITX, a hackable HF SDR transceiver designed around the Raspberry Pi.

[Ashhar] introduced the project in talk at the virtual “Four Days In May” annual conference of the QRP Amateur Radio Club International. Watch the full talk in the video after the break. He first goes over the available open source SDR radios, and then delves into his design decisions for the sBITX. One of the primary goals of the project was to lower the barrier of entry. To do this, he chose the Raspberry Pi as base, and wrote C code that that anyone who has done a bit of Arduino programming should be able to understand and modify. The hardware is designed to be as simple as possible. On the receive side, a simple superheterodyne architecture is used to feed a 25 kHz wide slice of RF spectrum to an audio codec, which send the digitized audio to the Raspberry Pi. The signal is then demodulated in software using FFT. For transmit, the signal is generated in software, and then upconverted to the desired RF frequency. [Ashhar] also created a GUI for the 7? Raspberry Pi screen.[]

Ofcom agrees for Radio Caroline to turn up the power (Community Radio Today)

A power increase has been agreed for Radio Caroline to extend its coverage area from Suffolk and Essex to include Kent as East Sussex.

The station is broadcasting under a community radio licence and was originally granted 1kW of power on 648 AM in 2018. The actual power increase amount has not been announced.

Ofcom says a power increase was agreed to combat man made noise and interference in the existing coverage area, and to extend coverage to adjoining areas.

While the subsequent increase in the licensed area was considered to be significant, the decision-maker deemed there to be exceptional circumstances in order to approve this request, saying the service has experienced high levels of background noise and interference, particularly in urban areas.

The licensee also serves a ‘community of interest’ as opposed to a defined geographic community meaning the service is positioned to be accessible to the community of interest in the proposed extended areas.[]

 


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