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Oh Canada! Very friendly to low power radio

Canada is light years ahead in the area of low power radio and guess what, NAB, their commercial radio industry hasn't imploded yet!

Industry Canada exempts FM broadcasting transmitters from authorization when those transmitters meet the requirement of Broadcasting Equipment Technical Standards 1 (BETS-1). These transmitters are commonly called Low Power Announcement Radios or alternatively real estate radios.

According to BETS-1, “The maximum power output of the transmitter into its antenna, with no modulation, shall not produce a field strength level of more than 100 μV/m as measured at a distance of 30 meters, compared to the USA FCC standard of 250 uV/m at 3 meters. That might seem minuscule, but it could be said in a very crude way that Canada allows more than five times the power.

Learn more with Frequently Asked Questions on Low-Power FM Broadcasting from Industry Canada

One such operator is VankleekFM a privately owned Ultra Low Power FM transmitter located in the village of Vankleek Hill, Ontario.  The owner of the service, Jean Sarrazin, maintains a license with Industry Canada to use the frequency, 88.7 as an unprotected, "local public information service" and describes the operation as follows.

As a low power station the service is exempt from most CRTC content requirements as long as it respects the CRTS's exemption order defined by the following criteria:
  1. Operates between 88 -107.5 MHZ,
  2. Field strength measurements at 30 metres must not exceed 100 uv/m
  3. Meets all technical requirements of Industry Canada,
  4. Originates all programming,
  5. Does not rebroadcast the programming of another (broadcast) undertaking,
  6. Does not broadcast religious or political programming,
  7. Does not broadcast the same message on more than one transmitter.
I found a bit more information at an inactive but informative site called Radio XY - English Bay  - kewl, eh?


Jasun said...

Is there somewhere that sells VLPFM kits within Canada?

Low Power Radio Guy said...

Yes! The euphonious Canakits offers several.


Bruce Woodford said...

I have ordered an F-S variable power 0.1 to 0.5 W FM Transmitter with the little antenna that screws into the back of the transmitter. Does this fit into the parameters for unlicensed FM broadcasting in Canada? If so does one still need to apply to the CRTC or Industry Canada for any sort of permission to transmit?

Low Power Radio Guy said...

Hi Bruce - according to the FAQ linked above your transmitter would not meet the general requirements if you are located in an urban area. You might meet the 100uV/meter @ 30 meters (far more liberal than the US, btw) with a very conservative antenna and if you wanted to try that you could apply to CRTC and give it a try. If you are in a remote area you might have an opportunity to use that transmitter with the rural exemption. You would probably be best served reviewing the above linked FAQ and following the instructions there before you put the fire in that wire.

Unknown said...

We are looking into LPFM to provide announcements during a couple of local rural Festivals. We like the idea of hanging battery powered FM Radios around the events so everyone can here the commentary for the event. What would you recommend.

Low Power Radio Guy said...

I think that any of the 200 milliWatt (200mW or .2 Watt, all the same) units would work well and be easy for anyone to set up.

There is a selection of six or eight listed on Amazon, here:

If you'd like more power in a simple form factor, there is a full one watt version on ebay, here:

Good luck and have fun!