HD Radio's Electronic Program Guide

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Insight to IBOC, Feb 2010

To help sort these issues and test the feasibility of a radio EPG ecosystem, lab testing of various EPG modes and a subsequent field trial were proposed and subsequently received a second round of funding by NAB Fastroad.

The culmination of this second phase of the EPG project was a field trial of the HD Radio EPG service conducted in the Boston/Providence/Worcester markets during the summer of 2009. A remote real-time demonstration of the Boston-area EPG system was presented on the exhibit floor of the NAB Radio show in Philadelphia in September 2009.

Figure 2. Various views of Radio EPG data in online presentation during field trials.

Enhancing localism via EPG

These three adjacent Arbitron markets were selected as the field trial location for several reasons. An analysis done during the first phase of the EPG project showed that one of the challenges to the delivery of EPG services was in the geographic diversity of radio broadcast coverage areas. An effective EPG service would provide the listener with an accurate listing of the programs available to the listener at his location. EPG services should filter out false positives, which are program listings of stations that are not receivable at the listener's location, and false negatives, which are missing listings for stations that are receivable at the listener's location. The triple-market area provided a geographically compact example of the overlapping service areas of stations in adjacent markets. These markets also represent the scope of market sizes in the nation — large, medium and small. In addition, several major radio groups that are supportive of the EPG trial own stations in these markets. Broadcast Signal Lab was able to leverage its long-standing relationships with commercial and non-commercial stations in these markets to obtain participation in the field trial.

As Figure 1 indicates, a key component of the EPG ecosystem (and thus the field trial, as well) was the multiplatform delivery of EPG service. So in addition to presenting the EPG as a 1.7kb/s HD Radio datacast, the same data was provided on a Web service (optimized for handheld device browser display), and viewed on a PC and an Iphone at the NAB Radio Show demonstration (see Figure 2). Because the Web service is available ubiquitously, it included the ability to manually filter the display of available stations by ZIP code, as shown in Figure 3. Ultimately this could be done automatically by a location-aware browser/device, on a national or even international scale.

Figure 3. EPG with geo-filtering

The First EPG-capable receiver

The EPG team was especially pleased by the support of Ibiquity and Korean consumer electronics manufacturer Cydle who collaborated to provide a functional prototype HD Radio EPG receiver on hand for demonstration at the NAB Fastroad EPG booth during the 2009 NAB Radio Show (see Figure 4).

The EPG functions supported by Cydle's touch screen implementation (shown in Figure 5) included:

  • Select station from list
  • Load and display EPG of selected station
  • Refresh EPG data
  • Display previous day's schedule
  • Display next day's schedule
  • Close EPG
  • -- continued on page 3

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