Digital Radio Update - March 5, 2008


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Index:


News

DAB Gets Gloomy Prognosis Down Under
DAB's recent round of negative press in the UK is now being echoed in Australia, where the technology has only just begun building out. According to a Feb. 27 article by Asher Moses in the Sydney Morning Herald, Professor Jock Given of Swineburne University predicts DAB will face a tepid response at best from consumers, who are already comfortable with Ipods and other portable devices for delivering their daily music fix, while online and conventional radio continues to serve specialized programming needs, such as sports and news content.

The fact that Givens formerly served on the Australian government's Digital Radio Advisory Committee lends his view a significant degree of credibility among industry observers there.

A major part of the problem, according to the article, is that Australia's digital radio planning process has spanned a period of almost 11 years, while parallel technologies have moved forward. The current DAB pullback by commercial broadcasters in the UK is seen as a warning sign that the economic viability of Australia's system, which involves tens of millions of dollars of private investment, may be questionable. Other DAB critics point to Canada's flagging DAB rollout as more evidence that the technology will fail to ignite consumer interest down under.

Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner has offered no response to Given's statements, and maintains that DAB will generate excitement among consumer's there.


German DRM+ Trials Move Forward
Digital Radio Mondiale's DRM+ digital radio implementation has reportedly begun its second round of testing at the University of Applied Sciences in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Following initial tests in Hanover, the Federal Network Agency, University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern, and the German State Media Authority of Rhineland-Palatinate (LMK) plan to carry out DRM+ field measurements using an DRM+ transmission facility operating on 87.6MHz. The test regimen aims to determine what signal level is sufficient to achieve desired digital coverage while minimizing interference to analog broadcasts, as well as the viability of multicasting digital audio streams.

DRM+ is a wider bandwidth implementation of DRM, now in European and Asian service on narrow-band broadcast channels below 30MHz. Proponents of DRM+ say that channel bandwidths between 50-100kHz can easily be accommodated and that multicasting using AAC Plus coded streams is possible.

Results of these DRM+ field tests will be presented during a dedicated symposium on Thursday, May 29, in Kaiserslautern. Those interested in attending can register via email drm-symposium-kl@drm-radio-kl.eu


Business

Will Sprint and Clearwire Make up?
Stock market news source, www.thestreet.com is reporting that Sprint and Clearwire may be ready to ink a partnership that would launch a new U.S. Wimax carrier. According to the report, the deal would allow both entities to combine the wireless spectrum each company now holds.

Of equal interest in business circles is that Intel, which produces Wimax chipsets, currently holds a 30 percent share of Clearwire. That would give an emerging entity the ability to build out networks nationwide while assuring adequate supplies of chipsets would be available to third party consumer electronics manufacturers.

Sprint aborted an earlier deal with Clearwire along the same lines last November, reportedly at the direction of New Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. Under that arrangement, Sprint was to contribute $2.75 billion toward network build-out costs, estimated now at more than $5 billion nationwide. But after Sprint announced a soft rollout to employees only in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Chicago back in December, it quickly became apparent things weren't advancing at the predicted pace. Analysts now believe that a new round of negations may be the reason for delays.

The deal could be significant to the radio industry because Sprint says it plans to market the high-speed broadband service as a fully open network. This means manufacturers could include Wimax chipsets in a wide variety of consumer devices, including dedicated Internet radio platforms, thus rendering those devices fully mobile for the first time.


HD Multicast Generating Revenue at KSHE
According to Inside Radio's March 4 online edition, Emmis-owned KSHE in St Louis has begun generating revenue from its HD-2 stream by selling name-in-title rights on the channel to a pair of clients.

A station spokesman reportedly suggested the technique could provide a gateway for non-traditional advertisers to buy exposure via radio.


IBOC Across America

IBOC by State: Rhode Island
Ibiquity has a list of stations with licensed HD Radio technology and notes those on the air now. IBOC by state looks at various states and lists the stations making the transition. There are nine stations in the Ocean State broadcasting 12 HD Radio channels.

MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatOwner
Providence-Warwick-PawtucketWPRO-AM 630News/Talk-Citadel
Providence-Warwick-PawtucketWHJJ-AM 920News/Talk-Clear Channel Radio
Providence-Warwick-PawtucketWRNI-AM 1290NPR/News/Info-Boston University
Providence-Warwick-PawtucketWPRO-FM 92.3Top 40-Citadel
Providence-Warwick-PawtucketWSNE-FM 93.3Hot ACDisco and DanceClear Channel Radio
Providence-Warwick-PawtucketWHJY-FM 94.1RockNew Alternative RockClear Channel Radio
Providence-Warwick-PawtucketWWBB-FM 101.5Classic HitsComedyClear Channel Radio
Providence-Warwick-PawtucketWWLI-FM 105.1Hot AC-Citadel
Providence-Warwick-PawtucketWWKX-FM 106.3Hip Hop-Citadel

Eye on IBOC

India's Wimax Rollout Begins
Tata Communications, an India-based telecom firm, says it plans to deploy one of the largest Wimax networks in the world to supply wireless broadband to 115 cities in India with a target of over 200, 000 subscribers by 2009. The company reportedly plans to invest between $500 million and $600 million in building out its Wimax network over the next five years, with long-term growth estimates of up to 300 million customers for the service throughout India.

Wimax, a wireless standard for wide-area broadband data connectivity, including streamed audio and video services, could become a key technology for fast-tracking broadband adoption in India, where only 3.1 million of some 1.2 billion citizens currently have access to broadband.

Tata has chosen Telsima, a Santa Clara based technology startup, as a technology partner in the project.


HD Radio Terminology

The New Language of Digital Radio
assignment (of a broadcast frequency): The licensing of a certain allotment to a specific entity (the licensee) with a specific set of parameters (power, height, location, directionality, gain and so forth).

digital signal: With respect to IBOC, the digitally modulated OFDM waveform. In the hybrid mode, the term digital signal is exclusive of the host analog signal.

multistream: An encoded audio stream split into two components in which one consists of a moderate fidelity core stream that is independently decodable and another that consists of an enhanced audio stream that supplements the core, but cannot be decoded independently. The core stream is more robust by being transmitted with a higher quality of service than the enhanced, and faster to acquire by being transmitted at the block rate rather than the frame rate. Different from multicast.


Products

Wi-fi Radio Available at Best Buy Online
American consumers interested in trying out a wireless Internet radio now need look no further than Best Buy online. The American big-box giant now offers its customers the Grace Digital ITC-IR 100B Wi-fi Internet radio at a $199 price point.

The traditional-looking desktop unit allows users to listen to Internet radio via their home wireless 802.11b/g network with support for MP3, WMA and Real Media streaming. The IR100B features a four-line LCD display with dial and push-button controls for station browsing, along with a 5W speaker system with bass enhancement. Also provided are 128b WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) data encryption for added security; and an ac adapter.

Best Buy currently offers the IR100B as an online-order item only.




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