Digital Radio Update - April 11, 2007


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Stay up to date on the latest IBOC news, business and technology information with the twice-monthly newsletter from Radio magazine.


Index:

  • DAB Codec Conversion Provokes Controversy in UK
  • Jaguar, Hyundai to offer HD Radio Option
  • Electronic Program Guides, Messagecasting Demo at NAB2007
  • Ibiquity Hosts First European HD Radio Forum
  • HD Radio Trials Begin in Vietnam
  • BE HD Radio Transmitters Reach New Benchmarks
  • IBOC by State: Maine
  • An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio

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    News

    DAB Codec Conversion Provokes Controversy in UK
    An announcement last November that World DMB intends to adopt the high efficiency AAC V.2 codec as a new standard for DAB radio has set some teeth on edge in the UK, according to a report posted on the digitalradiotech.uk website.

    At the heart of the controversy lay about one million DAB radios sold in Great Britain during the last few years. Manufactured to meet the original Eureka 147 DAB codec standards, the consumer units employ Layer II MPEG audio coding – state of the art during system development in the 1990s, but far below the performance set by current codecs using similar bit rates. While the move to HE AAC is intended to make the technology attractive to other European states who have yet to adopt it, Brits who have made the plunge into DAB wonder how long it will be before they'll have to abandon their recently acquired digital receivers, the majority of which are not field upgradeable.

    The issue surfaced when Quentin Howard, the current President of World DMB and the chief executive of Britain's Digital One national DAB operator, appeared on the BBC TV program "Working Lunch" on March 20. When a BBC interviewer asked Howard if "people wasted their money [on existing DAB receivers]," the CEO was put on the defensive about the codec's roll-out. Howard's critics claim that information presented regarding the conversion timetable, which will reportedly begin no earlier than 2010 in the UK, was less than forthcoming.

    World DMB describes itself as "an international, non-governmental organization whose role is to promote the awareness, adoption and implementation of Eureka 147 based technologies worldwide."

    The organization's name refers to digital multimedia broadcasting including radio, mobile TV and broadcast new media services. Its members include public and commercial broadcasters, receiver manufacturers and other companies and bodies committed to the promotion of services and equipment based on the Eureka 147 family of standards.


    Business

    Jaguar, Hyundai to offer HD Radio Option
    In a move that could mark a positive trend for broadcasters, Hyundai and Jaguar will offer an OEM HD Radio option in their respective 2008 premium models. The release of Jaguar's 2008 XJ Sedan, and Hyundai's yet-to-be named rear wheel drive 2008 sports sedan will end BMW's current distinction as the sole automaker offering its customers a factory HD Radio option, though the German firm remains the only carmaker with HD Radio available throughout its line.

    Most industry observers see widespread availability of OEM HD Radio in new cars as a pivotal element in achieving meaningful consumer market penetration for digital radio technology.

    Jaguar says the XJ Sedan HD package will carry a suggested sticker price of $500.


    Electronic Program Guides, Messagecasting Demo at NAB2007
    Demonstrations of Electronic Program Guides (EPGs) and flexible messagecasting management tools will highlight HD Radio's potential for new broadcast services at NAB2007. Working in cooperation with Ibiquity Digital, Broadcast Electronics will offer an EPG on-air concept demonstration that will carry program schedules for 20 HD Radio program channels in the greater Las Vegas area from April 16 through the April 19.

    "EPG is an important part of our broader concept of HD Radio technology," said Jordan Scott, director, advanced services business development for Ibiquity Digital, which developed a specification for presenting EPG data on HD Radio devices. Nautel will be demonstrating its new EPG product as well.

    At BE's The Radio Experience (TRE) demonstration kiosk the company will feature a receiver platform with touch-screen interface displaying station names, frequencies and HD channels that automatically advance through EPG schedules by station or by time. BE will also be showing a Messagecasting tool for radio producers that facilitates text creation and integration between network show producers and affiliate stations.

    The tool enables content providers to create, schedule and attach headlines, guest names and other messages relevant to program audio for redistribution by affiliate stations. Once delivered to stations running BE's TRE Message Manager, the messaging content is automatically interleaved with the affiliate's local text messages for distribution over RDS, the Web or HD Radio technology.

    The standard version of TRE Producer is currently being offered free of charge to radio producers.


    BE HD Radio Transmitters Reach New Benchmarks
    Quincy, IL - Apr 10, 2007 - Broadcast Electronics (BE) reports that its line of solid-state FM HD Radio transmitters now exceed the previous benchmarks for output power and spectral performance. The RF equipment manufacturer reports an average 10 percent increase in output power for low-level combined applications and 25 percent increase in output power for HD Radio-only applications. This power increase applies to its entier HD Radio solid-state transmitter products, and BE states that the results are due in part to the company's ESP technology.

    The BE ESP technology corrects for nonlinearities in the transmission chain, which results in improved efficiency and spectral performance, according to Ted Lantz, BE HD Radio product manager. The findings are based on field and factory measurements comparing transmitter overall operating performance.


    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by State: Maine
    Ibiquity has a list of stations that have licensed HD Radio technology and notes those that are on the air now. IBOC by state looks at various states and list the stations that are making the transition.

    There are 11 stations broadcasting 11 HD Radio channels in the Pine Tree State. None of them are multicasting yet.

    MarketStationHD1 FormatOwner
    Augusta-WatervilleWMEW-HD1 91.3News/ClassicalMaine Public Broadcasting Network
    BangorWMEH-HD1 90.9News/ClassicalMaine Public Broadcasting Network
    BiddefordWVAE-AM 1400Adult StandardsSaga
    CalaisWMED-HD1 89.7News/ClassicalMaine Public Broadcasting Network
    CamdenWMEP-HD1 90.5Classical/NewsMaine Public Broadcasting Network
    Fort KentWMEF-HD1 106.5News/ClassicalMaine Public Broadcasting Network
    PortlandWMPG-HD1 90.9EducationalUniversity of Maine System
    PortlandWMGX-HD1 93.1Hot ACSaga
    PortlandWBAE- AM 1490Adult StandardsSaga
    PortlandWMEA-HD1 90.1News/ClassicalMaine Public Broadcasting Network
    Presque IsleWMEM-HD1 106.1News/ClassicalMaine Public Broadcasting Network

    Eye on IBOC

    Ibiquity Hosts First European HD Radio Forum
    Ibiquity Digital hosted more than 70 industry executives representing the automotive, broadcast, data content and IC industries at the first-ever HD Radio European Forum held in Cologne, Germany. The program reportedly featured updates on the HD Radio roll-out, an overview of current and future HD Radio applications and a road map on future plans.

    The event punctuates a period during which European interest in HD Radio technology appears to be building. HD Radio trials began in Poland and Switzerland in early 2006, while Ibiquity licensed Italy's RVR Elettronica as the first licensed HD Radio broadcast equipment manufacturer in Europe in February.


    HD Radio Trials Begin in Vietnam
    HD Radio will soon make its debut in another southeast Asian nation. Jampro Antennas has announced delivery of an HD-FM radio antenna to Radio The Voice of Vietnam (VOV) as part of the first test of digital radio broadcasting in that country. The demonstrations, organized by Jampro and the company's local partners, are to take place in Hanoi and Ho Chi Min City.

    VOV is currently engaged in a three year, VND200 billion expansion of its cultural and social affairs, music and ethnic language broadcasts to the northern midland and mountainous provinces.

    VOV is owned and operated by the Vietnamese government through its Radio and Television Broadcast Development Company, which offers diverse programming over six national channels distrbuted by a network of MW, SW and VHF FM transmitters. VOV employs 1,600 in staff at its headquarter in Hanoi and permanent offices Ho Chi Min City, Can Tho, DakLak, Son La and Da Nang, with overseas liaison offices in Paris, Bangkok, Moscow, Peking and Cairo.

    Other member states of the Asia-Pacific Broadcast Union currently evaluating HD Radio include Indonesia and the Philippines.


    HD Radio Terminology

    An introduction to the new language surrounding HD Radio
    Tomorrow Radio: the project name given to the multicast tests conducted by NPR, Harris and Kenwood.

    resolution bandwidth (RBW): the indication of a spectrum analyzer's ability to show sufficient detail of a given spectrum. For AM, 300kHz is recommended; for FM, 1kHz is recommended.




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