Now you, too, can search for available LPFM or FM translator channels in the comfort of your own home!

The hunt for “available” spectrum can be brutally hard. That unpleasant reality was highlighted in the Commission’s recent Quest for Spectrum as it sought to sort out the Low Power FM/FM Translator problem.

In prepping for the LPFM/FM translator order, the dedicated Media Bureau staff went to extraordinary lengths to try to divine what channels might be available, and where, to accommodate demand for new LPFM and FM translator stations in more than 150 markets. Just what lengths, you ask? In the Commission’s words:

[T]he Bureau centered a thirty-minute latitude by thirty-minute longitude grid over the center-city coordinates of each studied market. Each grid consists of 931 points – 31 points running east/west by 31 points running north/south. Grid points are located at one-minute intervals of latitude and longitude. The Bureau analyzed each of the 100 FM channels (88.1 MHz – 107.9 MHz) at each grid point to determine whether any channels remain available for future LPFM stations at that location. Only channels that fully satisfy co-, first- and second adjacent channel LPFM spacing requirements to all authorizations and applications, including pending translator applications, are treated as available.

If our math is right (and there’s a reason we went to law school), the Bureau’s study involved about a squadrillion (well, almost 14,000,000) separate calculations – if we treat as a “calculation” each separate analysis of each of 100 channels at each of 931 grid points in each of 150 markets. (Note that we would have thought that a 31 x 31 grid would have contained 961 points, rather than the 931 the FCC mentions, but like we said, there’s a reason we went to law school.)

If you think that all sounds easy – or if you think you could have done better – here’s your chance. The Commission is making available to the Great Unwashed the spectrum availability analysis program the Bureau used, along with the coordinates used in preparing each market analysis. Talk about fun for the whole family! Now you can spend hours exploring the potential availability of frequencies for LPFM stations at locations throughout the United States! Just click on this link, download and unzip the files, and off you go. (The Commission cautions that you check out the Readme.txt file first – it’ll help guide you through the contents.)

Good luck.