Norway might be shutting down all National FM networks but local FMs will continue to operate for at least another 5 years. Does this mean that they are different from national ones when it comes to coverage and power consumption? The simple answer is no but it isn’t that simple either.
Norwegian FM networks typically consume much less power compared to world standards. They can take anywhere from 500 to 1000 W and this is because a lot of the landscape is hilly terrain. Thus with LPFM, it is easier to cover a greater area as long as mountains are used for transmissions.
At present, several local stations have different coverage and are not reliant on national channels. NEA Radio for instance is a great example as their FM coverage is far superior than even NRK. They should not suffer the Norwegian government decision to shut down FM. However, there are several local channels with worse coverage that depended on national channels. Some cities don’t even have local radio and these cities will have to switch to DAB or the internet radio almost immediately.
Thankfully, already a few radio stations had begun using DAB along with FM band. They should manage just fine, simply switching over to DAB. But for stations that relied heavily on national radio, this is the end of their existence.
One positive aspect for FM is that great content will begin to surface as many local stations fight for the open position left by the national network. Content that has the power to sell will manage to draw a larger audience but on the flipside, poor content will be penalized as those stations will not be able to keep the costs down.
Another point that is yet uncertain with the Norwegian shutdown of national FM stations is whether the old FM frequencies are up for grabs. As it stands, currently those frequencies are all off air. Whether they will be given extensions or renewals for local stations is not yet known.
Sweden it seems might benefit a lot from Norway’s latest decision as nearly 60% of FMs in Norway are actually from Sweden. Since there is no language barrier between the two nations, it stands to reason that Swedish channels will get a lot more ears. In fact, current radio FM signals from Swedish channels are easier to catch with reduced congestion in the bandwidths.