Digital Radio Update - June 21, 2006
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Study: HD Radio Awareness Has Miles to Go
Over a third of Americans recently polled say they are aware of something called HD Radio, according to a study conducted in May by strategic research firm Mark Kassof and Co. But while 38 percent of respondents say they have heard of the technology, the same poll suggests that only about 25 percent have even a limited grasp of its purpose or potential.
Lack of awareness is particularly acute in respect to multicasting, with only 1 percent of respondents indicating that HD Radio has the potential to offer listeners more programming choices. Three times as many respondents mistakenly believe that HD Radio is the same as or somehow associated with satellite radio.
Demographically, young males tend to have the strongest level of awareness of the technology, while older females tend to lag furthest on the curve.
"What it all means is that broadcasters have their work cut out for them in terms of consumer education," said company president Mark Kassof, who finds the almost nonexistent knowledge about HD Radio's multicast advantage as the study's most troubling finding.
The poll data was derived from telephone surveys conducted with 749 respondents across the United States.
HD Radio Drives BE Facility Expansion
Broadcast equipment manufacturer Broadcast Electronics (BE) broke ground last week on a 20,000-square-foot facility expansion needed to keep up with the plethora of orders for HD Radio components and compatible transmission systems. The company claims that its revenue growth has reached "double digit" figures in recent years.
Increased demand for transmission equipment and components has not been limited to one manufacturer, however. Other vendors, such as Harris, Continental, Nautel and several antenna firms have also reported significant upticks in deliveries, as large broadcast chains like Clear Channel undertake comprehensive HD Radio conversion programs.
One anonymous director of engineering with a major radio ownership group summed up the situation: "transmitter plant improvements used to occupy the last rung on capital budget priority lists...but with the HD rollout underway, it seems like now it's all our corporate [leadership] can think about--but I'm not complaining!"
BE predicts the expansion at its Quincy, IL, facility, scheduled to begin in late in 2006, should increase its production capacity by almost 30 percent.
New Japanese Handsets Include Satellite Audio Services
U.S. consumers may soon have the opportunity to subscribe to terrestrially-based streaming audio and video services via third generation mobile phone handsets, but Japan remains a step ahead as it becomes the first nation to offer consumers streaming audio on handsets via satellite, according to the latest edition of NAB's Radio Tech Check.
NTT Docomo of Tokyo will offer a satellite radio package to consumers equipped with Mitubishi's new Music Porter X model handset. The satellite channels will originate from Mobile Broadcasting (MBCO), a Japanese provider currently offering more than 30 channels of audio as well as multi-channel video services via a single geostationary satellite with a terrestrial gap-filling network operating at about 2.6GHz. That system has been operating as a stand-alone service since 2004.
Music Porter X users will be able to subscribe to "Mobaho," a select package of 15 satellite audio channels that will complement the handset's gigabyte of memory for multi-format compressed audio file recording/playback as well as standard FM broadcast reception, for a monthly subscription fee of $10. The handset will also accommodate conventional wireless network voice, text, messaging and video at a separate subscription price. The purchase price of the Music Porter X handset is about $400US.
XM Works to Resolve FCC Receiver Certification Issues
XM Satellite Radio is moving quickly to resolve FCC questions regarding emissions compliance of some of its receiver models. Modified XM's SkyFi 2 and Audiovox's Xpress models reportedly received blessings from the FCC in the form of certification by the agency last week. Shipments of both models had been suspended when the FCC informed the manufacturers that the analog FM modulators appeared to exceed the agency's limits for such devices. XM's Roady XT model has also been approved for shipment.
The cure to the emissions issue was described by XM management as a "simple, low-cost retro-fit," easily fitted on to unsealed units and added to packages of sealed units, presumably to be added by installers or consumers. One publication said the fix is nothing more than a ferrite bead that slips over the antenna wire, diminishing the efficiency of the antenna.
What is not clear is how many installers will actually bother to add the part, or how many consumers might actually remove it to supercharge the output of their receivers. Posts in some XM user forums indicate that the ability of some XM receiver's modulators to capture radios in nearby vehicles is a source of pride among those who own them. Non-commercial FM licensees that occupy the lower FM band where the modulators operate--including some public radio stations now operating in HD--have complained that the unlicensed devices constitute an unwanted and illegal source of interference with their broadcasts.
News of the FCC certifications was welcomed by financial publications such as Forbes magazine. That publication had previously printed reports of investment analyst warnings to shareholders that hold-ups in the receiver supply chain could adversely impact the company's financial performance.
IBOC Across America
IBOC by State: Florida
Ibiquity has a list of stations that have licensed HD Radio technology and notes those that are on the air now. IBOC by state will look at various states and list the stations that are making the transition.
|Ft. Myers-Naples-Marco Island||WRXK 96.1 FM||Clsc Rock||-||-||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Ft. Myers-Naples-Marco Island||WWCN 770 AM||Sprts/Talk||-||-||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Ft. Myers-Naples-Marco Island||WXKB 103.9 FM||Top 40||-||-||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Gainesville-Ocala||WUFT 89.1 FM||Classical||-||-||University of Florida|
|Jacksonville||WFKS 97.9 FM||CHR||-||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Jacksonville||WJBT 92.7 FM||RhyBl/UrCHR||-||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Jacksonville||WJCT 89.9 FM||News/Info||-||-||WJCT|
|Melbourne-Titusville-Cocoa||WFIT 89.5 FM||Varty/SmJaz||-||-||Florida Institute of Technology|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WAMR 107.5 FM||Span/AdCHR||-||-||Univision Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WBGG 105.9 FM||Clsc Rock||AAA||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WDNA 88.9 FM||Jazz||-||-||Bascomb Memorial Broadcasting Foundation|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WEDR 99.1 FM||Urban||-||-||Cox Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WFLC 97.3 FM||AC||-||-||Cox Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WHDR 93.1 FM||Rock||-||-||Cox Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WHQT 105.1 FM||Urban AC||-||-||Cox Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WHSR 980 AM||Internat'l||-||-||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WHYI 100.7 FM||CHR||New CHR||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WKIS 99.9 FM||Country||Country - Gretchen||NOAA Weather||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WLRN 91.3 FM||Nws/Tlk/Inf||Classical||-||Miami/Dade County School Board|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WLVE 93.9 FM||Smooth Jazz||Classical||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WMGE 94.9 FM||Urban CHR||Adult Standards||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WMIB 103.5 FM||Hip Hop||Urban Variety Oldies||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WPOW 96.5 FM||Rhymc/CHR||Dance||WQAM-AM Simulcast||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WQAM 560 AM||Sprts/Talk||-||-||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WQBA 1140 AM||Spn/Nws/Tlk||-||-||Univision Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WRMA 106.7 FM||Span/BtfMs||-||-||Spanish Broadcasting System|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WRTO 98.3 FM||SpnAC/Trpcl||-||-||Univision Radio|
|Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood||WWNN 1470 AM||Motivationl||-||-||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|Orlando||WCFB 94.5 FM||Urban AC||-||-||Cox Radio|
|Orlando||WHTQ 96.5 FM||Clsc Rock||-||-||Cox Radio|
|Orlando||WJHM 101.9 FM||HpHop/UrbAC||-||-||CBS Radio|
|Orlando||WMMO 98.9 FM||Soft Rock||-||-||Cox Radio|
|Orlando||WPYO 95.3 FM||HpHop/Rhymc||-||-||Cox Radio|
|Orlando||WUCF 89.9 FM||Jazz||-||-||University of Central Florida|
|Pensacola||WJLQ 100.7 FM||Hot AC||-||-||Cumulus Broadcasting|
|Pensacola||WUWF 88.1 FM||Variety||NPR/Variety||NPR||University of West Florida|
|Pensacola||WYCT 98.7 FM||Country||-||-||ADX Communications|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater||WFLA 970 AM||Nws/Tlk/Spt||-||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater||WMGG 820 AM||Span/Oldes||-||-||Mega Communications|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater||WPOI 101.5 FM||80s Hits||Modern Adult||-||Cox Radio|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater||WQYK 99.5 FM||Country||-||-||CBS Radio|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater||WRBQ 104.7 FM||Oldies||-||-||CBS Radio|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater||WSJT 94.1 FM||Jazz||-||-||CBS Radio|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater||WSUN 97.1 FM||Alternative||All Grunge Rock||-||Cox Radio|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater||WUSF 89.7 FM||Educational||News/Public Affairs||-||University of South Florida|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater||WWRM 94.9 FM||Soft AC||Contemporary Christian||-||Cox Radio|
|West Palm Beach-Boca Raton||WJBW 106.3 FM||Rhythm/Blue||-||-||CBS Radio|
|West Palm Beach-Boca Raton||WJNA 640 AM||Nostalgia||-||-||Crystal Boynton Beach|
|West Palm Beach-Boca Raton||WMBX 102.3 FM||CHR||-||-||CBS Radio|
|West Palm Beach-Boca Raton||WOLL 105.5 FM||AC||-||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|West Palm Beach-Boca Raton||WPBZ 103.1 FM||Altve/Rock||-||-||CBS Radio|
|West Palm Beach-Boca Raton||WRLX 92.1 FM||Soft AC||-||-||Clear Channel Radio|
|West Palm Beach-Boca Raton||WSBR 740 AM||Bus News||-||-||Beasley Broadcast Group|
|West Palm Beach-Boca Raton||WXEL 90.7 FM||Clscl/NPR||-||-||Barry Telecommunications|
Eye on IBOC
HD Radio Alliance Posts Receiver Resource Page
As the number of stations carrying HD Radio signals moves past the 800 mark, consumers interested in trying out the new technology now have a clearinghouse for information on who is offering HD Radio-capable receiver models as well as current information on features and availability, courtesy of the HD Digital Radio Alliance. The HD Radio Buyer's guide Web page, updated regularly, lists manufacturer names, Web links, model numbers and a list of features for digital receivers. You can visit the site at www.hdradio.com/hdradio_buyers_guide.php.
AM HD Radio on Air in Indonesia
News that Radio Sangkakala in Indonesia has signed on with an AM HD Radio signal on 1,062kHz is being touted as the first foray of AM HD Radio hybrid technology in Asia by Broadcast Electronics, the transmission system vendor.
While a number of countries outside of the United States have granted experimental permits for FM HD radio broadcasts, little testing of Ibiquity's AM hybrid technology has been undertaken outside of the Western hemisphere.
The medium-wave HD Radio system was installed for Radio Sangkakala's owner, Pohan E. Harliman in April--15 years after private AM stations in Indonesia migrated to FM, virtually abandoning the medium-wave band. The station, reportedly the first privately owned AM operation to return since the 1991 exodus, purchased the rights to three channels and is operating its carrier in the center of the available bandwidth with an output power of 10kW.
Coverage and reception of the digital signal has been reported as "excellent" by the station's owner/operator.
Clear Channel Traffic to Ride HD Radio in 2006
Clear Channel broadcasting plans to distribute real-time traffic data via HD Radio in 48 markets by the end of this year. The move will augment the company's current subscription-based service carrying data to auto navigation systems via RDS. GPS-based navigation systems are widely available as OEM options in new car models.
Although the service is still in its infancy, Clear Channel claims that traffic data subscriptions are tracking ahead of what company analysts had projected. The company is pushing forward with its HD Radio distribution as it offers a significant performance advantage over RDS in terms of bandwidth and, consequently, speed.
In addition to real time traffic survey information, Clear Channel intends to provide weather and point-of-interest updates to mobile GPS-based navigation systems. About 100 stations are said to be involved in the initial roll-out of the HD Radio data service.
To take advantage of the greater speed and versatility offered by the HD Radio-based service, the OEM system producers, such as Audiovox, Cobra and Garmin, will need to equip their systems with HD Radio receiver modules manufactured by companies such as TI and Alps.
HD Radio Terminology
Layer 1 (L1): The lowest protocol layer in the OSI Reference Model (also known as the physical layer). Primarily concerned with physical connections and the transmission of data over a communication channel.
Layer 2 (L2): The data link layer in the OSI Reference Model. Primarily concerned with specific requirements for frames (such as blocks and packets), synchronization and error control.
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