Radio Currents Online - Jan 17 - Jan 23, 2005

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Radio technology news updated as it happens.

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Powell to Resign as FCC Chairman
Washington - Jan 21, 2005 - In a letter sent to President Bush, FCC Chairman Michael Powell will resign his post as the agency's leader. Powell released the following statement:

Today, I sent a letter to the President thanking him for the incredible privilege of chairing the Federal Communications Commission during his first term. With a mixture of pride and regret I informed him of my intention to step down as a commissioner and chairman some time in March.

Having completed a bold and aggressive agenda, it is time for me to pursue other opportunities and let someone else take the reins of the agency. During my tenure, we worked to get the law right in order to stimulate innovative technology that puts more power in the hands of the American people, giving them greater choices that enrich their lives. Evidence of our success can be seen increasingly in the offices, the automobiles and the living rooms of the American consumer.

The seeds of our policies are taking firm root in the marketplace and are starting to blossom. The use of cell phones, digital televisions, personal video recorders, and digital music players, is exploding. These devices are increasingly connected anytime, anywhere by a wide variety of broadband networks enabling a host of competitive services and new applications. Our children will inherit this exciting future.

My only significant regret is that I will no longer have the pleasure and privilege of working shoulder to shoulder with the most talented and dedicated staff and colleagues that I have known. I look forward to spending some time off with my wife and two boys, before taking up my next challenge. They have been wonderfully supportive and patient.

Commissioners Abernathy and Copps released statements praising Powell for his work at the Commission.

Powell was a strong advocate of broadband access in many forms, and also pushed for communication services to be provided in remote areas that are underserviced. The resignation will take effect in March. Powell served as FCC chairman for four years. He was appointed to the Commission in 1997 by President Clinton.

Commissioners Kevin Martin and Kathleen Abernathy have been mentioned as possible successors to Powell, but come analysts believe the next chairman will come from outside the agency. Top candidates are believed to be Becky Klein, a former head of the Texas Public Utility Commission; Michael Gallagher of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; and Janice Obuchowski, a telecom consultant who served in the Commerce Department under the elder President Bush. Other names mentioned include former Interstate Commerce Commission Chairman Darius Gaskins and former Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jim Miller.

Indiana Tower Climber Rescued from Tower
West Terre Haute, IN - Jan 18, 2005 - The Associated Press reports that tower climber Alan Cook passed out while climbing a 635-foot tower. Cook was at the 475-foot level. Cook's coworker, Mike Norman, called 911 to get help, but Cook dangled in his harness for nearly two hours before he could be helped down.

Cook is an employee Midstate Telecom of Decatur, IL. Reports say that he drifted in and out of consciousness in the 20-degree temperatures. A firefighter, Hidekatsu Kajitami, climbed the tower and tethered Cook to a rope system in an effort to lower him to the top of a 90-foot ladder. In his disoriented state, Cook continued to grab the tower. Norman had to repeatedly move the rope to keep his coworker from grabbing the tower.

Cook was treated and released from a local hospital.

Patents Pressed Against File-Sharing Networks
Sherman Oaks, CA - Jan 20, 2005 - A software company and its parent are claiming that they hold patent rights to widely used Internet file-swapping technology, and they are demanding that several file-sharing networks obtain licenses to continue operating, the Washington Post reported.

Attorneys for Altnet and its parent company, Sherman Oaks, CA-based Brilliant Digital Entertainment, sent letters to several U.S.-based file-swapping firms -- including Lime Wire, Bear Share operator Free Peers and Mashboxx -- claiming that the companies were using patented technology in their products. The letter doesn’t explicitly threaten a lawsuit but does invite the firms to "discuss licensing opportunities."

"You could call it a warning. We call it an offer to license our technology," said Lawrence M. Hadley, counsel for Altnet and Brilliant Digital.

A valid patent would give the firm a tight hold on a popular means of identifying and trading digital copies of music, movies and software, just as a fledgling industry has sprung up to turn file sharing into a commercial enterprise.

Altnet has already signed a licensing deal for the technology with one of the largest peer-to-peer companies, Sharman Networks, which is based in the Republic of Vanuatu and is the firm that distributes Kazaa. Altnet's software allows users to purchase licensed copies of music over the Kazaa network, the Post reported.

Several recipients of the letters predicted that Altnet's patent claims are likely to be challenged.

The technology at issue is "hashing" -- a method for assigning a unique tag or "hash" to a digital file. By comparing the hashes, rather than entire files, file-swapping software can quickly process users' requests for specific songs, movies or other files.

Patent Office Releases Preliminary Top 10 List
Washington - Jan 11, 2005 - The Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the 2004 top 10 private-sector patent recipients. For the 12th consecutive year, IBM received more patents than any other private sector organization.

Top 10 Private Sector Patent Recipients for 2004
Preliminary Rank in 2004 Preliminary Number of Patents in 2004 Organization Rank in 2003 Number of Patents in 2003
1 3,248 International Business Machines Corporation 1 3,415
2 1,934 Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. 4 1,774
3 1,805 Canon Kabushiki Kaisha 2 1,992
4 1,775 Hewlett-Packard Development Company 5 1,759
5 1,760 Micron Technology 6 1,707
6 1,604 Samsung Electronics 9 1,313
7 1,601 Intel 7 1,592
8 1,514 Hitachi 3 1,893
9 1,310 Toshiba 13 1,184
10 1,305 Sony 10 1,311
reference 829 U. S. Government n/a 881

The listed patent counts are preliminary and are subject to correction. The final listing of patent counts for the top patenting organizations in 2004 will be available in the Patenting By Organizations report that should be available in April.


Shively Labs Selected for Sylvan Tower Facility
Portland, OR, and Bridgton, ME - Jan 21, 2005 - Shively Labs it has been selected by KBPS Public Radio Foundation, Mt. Hood Community College and Catholic Broadcasting Northwest, to supply a broadband panel antenna system and combiner for the stations' new Sylvan Tower facility in Portland, OR. The Model 6014 broadband panel antenna and the Model 2640 balanced combiner system will be configured for HD Radio use. The panel antenna features dual inputs for redundancy and a fail-safe pressurization system. The Shively panel antenna was selected after evaluation of measured coverage patterns performed on Shively's pattern range. The coverage is of particular concern to the customers because of the large facewidth tower used at the site.

The Sylvan Tower facility will be the first installation to use the Model 2640 low-power balanced combiner. The combiner is based on Shively's interdigital design and features a small footprint and cross module patching to allow each station to swap its digital and analog feeds. The combiner will accommodate the digital signal using a back feeding technique.

Iraqi Media Network Contracts Harris
Melbourne, FL – Jan 20, 2005 - Harris has been awarded a three-month, $22 million contract by the Iraqi Media Network (IMN). The contract scope includes training, programming support, systems integration and deployment work for IMN, the country's public television and radio broadcasting organization. The network operates locations in Baghdad and in more than 30 other locations throughout the country. Funding for the contract will be provided solely by the Iraqi government.

Work on a previous IMN contract was completed in early January. Originally awarded to Harris in January 2004 by the Defense Contracting Command, that contract scope included requirements for broadcast and printing equipment, broadcast studio and transmission systems design and integration, network operations, and employee training.

The Harris team completed construction of a news studio and an entertainment studio in central Baghdad. The public television network, Al Iraqiya, now has a 24-hour news desk and programming that features 80 percent Iraqi content including news, sports, business and weather coverage. Public radio programming includes talk and music formats. IMN has full capability to produce live entertainment and news commentary programs. Harris was supported by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) and Al Fawares, a Kuwaiti company with Iraqi ownership, on the project.

APT Celebrates the New Year With ORF in 5.1
Vienna - Jan 20, 2005 – Austria's public broadcaster ORF transmitted its popular New Year Concert 2005 in 5.1, using APT's Enhanced Apt-x Worldnet Skylink Multichannel audio encoders/decoders to handle the audio transmission over IP and ATM networks.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 radio mix of the concert, which was broadcast live as a trial transmission, was streamed via APT's Worldnet Skylink encoder across a 2Mb/s XDSL link to the ORF ATM network. There, the signal was decoded using the Worldnet Skylink decoder and mixed with announcements and other multichannel sources using ORF's Acousta D500 5.1 mixer. Finally, the ORF TV Centre distributed it to the Astra IH satellite uplink using its new ORF-Transponder 115.

Audiences across Europe were able to receive the concert, which was free to air, via their standard digital satellite set-top boxes.

To transmit multichannel audio for the new service, ORF will use Austrian Telekom's high-bandwidth broadcasting network for audio and video, which was established five years ago. This LNET, which is already being used to transmit stereo signals, connects the broadcaster's main studios in Vienna and eight other cities to ORF's main transmitter site.

A number of the codecs used for the LNET have recently been upgraded to incorporate APT's Enhanced Apt-x algorithm.

Sirius to Offer Satellite TV Service for Cars in 2006
New York - Jan 20, 2005 - Sirius Satellite Radio has announced plans to offer a satellite TV service for cars in the second half of 2006. The service will use Microsoft's Windows Media platform and offer several channels of children's programming. The satellite radio operator said it will also work with Microsoft for "further development of video applications." No agreement has been reached with automakers to support the service.

Sirius and XM are vying to win customers with exclusive programming and by including receivers in cars. Neither company has had a quarterly profit and they need at least 40 million subscribers to succeed.

Sirius said it was creating the service amid demand from automakers, which are including TV screens in the back seat of models designed for families. Ford Motor, Daimler-Chrysler and BMW already offer Sirius's receivers as a factory option. Those companies have shown preliminary interest in the video product. The company plans two to three channels, which might feature cartoons and music videos.

Harris Launches Software Systems Business Unit
Cincinnati and London - Jan 19, 2005 - Harris has formed the Software Systems business unit within its Broadcast Communications Division. The new business unit brings together the resources of Harris' automation business and Encoda Systems, which was acquired by Harris in November 2004. The combined operation places all content delivery products and services in one group, which will serve broadcast, enterprise and government markets.

Software Systems becomes the fifth business unit of Harris Broadcast Communications, joining Radio Broadcast Systems, Television Broadcast Systems, Networking and Government Solutions, and Broadcast Systems Europe.

John Sorensen, former chief executive officer of Encoda Systems, has been named president of the new Software Systems business unit. Sorensen joined Encoda Systems in 1987 as the principal designer and developer of the company's industry-leading traffic management and billing software systems for the cable/MSO market. He previously held positions with Unisys and Hewlett-Packard.

IBM Opens 500 Patents for Open Source Use
Armonk, NY - Jan 11, 2005 - IBM has allowed open access to innovations covered by 500 IBM software patents to individuals and groups working on open source software. IBM believes this is the largest pledge ever of patents of any kind and represents a major shift in the way IBM manages and deploys its intellectual property portfolio. The access applies to any individual, community or company working on or using software that meets the Open Source Initiative (OSI) definition of open source software now or in the future.

IBM intends for this pledge to form the basis of an industry-wide "patent commons" in which patents are used to establish a platform for further innovations in areas of broad interest to information technology developers and users.

Open source software, based on collaborative innovation among developers around the world, is gaining significant marketplace momentum. IBM believes that the patents it is releasing to open source developers will help foster continued innovation.

The patents cover dynamic linking processes for operating systems, file-export protocols and other technologies. The pledged patents and further related information will be posted on IBM's website ata href="" target="new">

IBM stated that it will continue to release patents in the future for open standards efforts.

Sirius Licenses Digital Fountain Meta-Content Technology
Fremont, CA - Jan 17, 2005 - Sirius Satellite Radio has signed a licensing agreement to use Digital Fountain's Meta-Content technology in upcoming products. Over time, the companies expect that Digital Fountain technology will be incorporated into all Sirius Satellite Radio receivers. Sirius has licensed Digital Fountain's latest generation of technology which is known as Raptor, a forward error correction (FEC) technology.

Meta-Content technology allows for efficient data reception when devices receive data at random and intermittent intervals, as is often the case with automotive receivers. For example, when using Meta-Content technology to receive a broadcast of a file, devices need only collect any set of packets about equal in length to the original data package to instantly and perfectly recreate the original data. Because there is no need to worry about which packets any particular receiver collects, the data is received quickly and reassembled accurately, even amidst intermittent reception schedules and frequent broadcast interruptions.

Raptor codes are rateless, meaning there is no limit on the amount of unique encoded data that can be generated. Also, the codes have the property that encoding and decoding calculation requirements are linear with respect to the size of the source data. This contrasts to conventional coding technologies where calculation requirements increase at an accelerating rate with larger size.

Broadcast Electronics to Host HD Radio Seminar in Las Vegas
Quincy, IL - Jan 18, 2005 - Broadcast Electronics will hold its fourth annual Las Vegas HD Radio seminar on Saturday, April 16, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Las Vegas seminar sees the largest attendance of all the seminars that BE conducts each year.

The seminar will continue BE's education rollout of HD Radio with practical solutions for conversion as well as the latest in transmission and studio technology. As in past years, the seminar also will serve as a discussion forum for broadcasters interested in field-tested HD Radio conversion techniques and new developments advancing HD Radio.

Among the topics to be covered this year:

  • Cost-effective solutions for converting station clusters
  • Benefits of generating HD Radio coding from the studio
  • Preparing for HD Radio text services and secondary audio, including wideband STL options
  • The latest in surround sound
  • Installation tips from BE engineers

    BE's HD Radio seminar is free. It will be held Saturday, April 16, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Room N-116. Register by e-mail to Additional information is available at

    Harris, Midwest Radio Systems Upgrade System in St. Louis
    Cincinnati - Jan 18, 2005 - Harris and Midwest Radio Systems have sold and installed Intraplex Synchrocast multiplexers for the Jefferson County Sheriff's department and 911 dispatch located near St. Louis, MO. The system will increase coverage and broaden market reach by operating multiple overlapping transmitters on the same frequency. To meet Jefferson County's need for a more reliable infrastructure and support network to serve its dispatch center, Harris was contracted to install its Intraplex multiplexers with Synchrocast at five sites, enabling each with five-channel simultaneous communication with seven site receivers per channel.

    Jefferson County receives nearly 100,000 calls per year, transmitting to 24 remote fire, police and EMS agencies. This is made possible by GPS satellites and precision digital timing; signals from five transmitters simulcasting together to eliminate artifacts at the listener's receiver. The Harris Intraplex Synchrocast system allows Jefferson County's dispatch to reach 95 percent of the area. Additionally, it can support future data broadcasting initiatives as the technology supports a voice-data network, eliminating the cost of future base-station, transmitter, or other infrastructure investments.

    Camco to Add Ethersound to Product Line
    Montbonnot, France and Wenden-Gerlingen, Germany - Jan 18, 2005 - Camco, a manufacturer of amplifiers, has agreed to add Ethersound connectivity to its entire product range. The optional Ethersound modules will be showcased in April at the Prolight+Sound trade show in Frankfurt. This short time to market is possible because of a close collaboration with Auvitran, an authorized Ethersound implementor who will provide hardware modules and development services to Camco. Ethersound is a standard for audio networking developed, patented and licensed by Digigram.

    Camco will develop optional Ethersound hardware modules compatible with its entire product range. Additionally, it will be possible to upgrade existing amplifiers of the Vortex and Tecton series with the modules and thereby add Ethersound functionalities to a large part of Camco's installed product base.

    Loud Technologies, Egosys Deal on Cross-Licensing

    Woodinville, WA - Jan 18, 2005 - Loud Technologies, the parent company of Mackie, EAW and Tapco, has signed a cross-licensing agreement with Egosys (ESI). Under the terms of the agreement, ESI will license Mackie Tracktion digital audio workstation software and Mackie-branded plug-in products from Loud.

    As part of this agreement, ESI will immediately begin bundling Mackie–branded software products with its PCI and Firewire audio and MIDI devices. This bundle will include Mackie Tracktion and Final Mix.

    Sales Call


    Rivens Joins Riedel
    Wuppertal, Germany - Jan 18, 2005 - Thomas Riedel, president of Riedel Communications, announced that Paul Rivens will join the company in the position of sales director as of Feb. 1. Rivens, Telex sales manager for many years, will be responsible for all International sales of the German-based wireless and intercom manufacturer.

    Sales management for Germany, Austria and Switzerland will remain the responsibility of Riedel's national sales office in Berlin.

    Riedel is seeing ongoing success, and it is currently filling new orders from Danmark Radio, BBC, ZDF and WDR.

    The appointment of Rivens is part of the company's restructuring efforts, which includes the consolidation of all central divisions at the German headquarter in Wuppertal.

    OMT Changes Board, Adds Baines as Executive Chairman
    Winnipeg, MB - Jan 18, 2005 - OMT has made changes to its current board of directors. Bill Baines, president of AML Wireless Networks, joins OMT as the executive chairman. In this position, Baines will work directly with the board to further develop and assist in the execution of OMT's market growth strategies. In addition, Jack E. Peterson, board chairman, and directors Ted Paley, Bruce McCormack, Scott Farr and Kevin Hooke have retired from the board. Mark Ahrens-Townsend, Stephen Pumple and Steven Stang remain as directors of the corporation.

    Scott Farr, president of OMT, said, "These changes are intended to reduce the size of the board to increase its effectiveness and add individuals that bring relevant experience."

    Baines has built and managed successful technology-based service companies during his 25 years of business experience including his tenure as president of Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) Communications, president of Norigen Communications, and his acquisition and turn-around of AML Wireless Networks in 2002.

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