Digital Radio Update - October 15, 2008


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Index

  • Clear Channel Helps Iphone Users Take Radio to Heart
  • Wunder Radio for Iphone Allows Access to Full Spectrum Web Radio
  • UK Financial Downturn Stalls Commercial DAB Build-out
  • Wimax Rolls out in Baltimore – Really!
  • IBOC by State: Hawaii
  • Ibiquity News Flurry Precedes Hong Kong Electronics Fair
  • The New Language of Digital Radio
  • Frontier Silicon Modules Drive New DAB/Internet Radio Devices

  • News

    Clear Channel Helps Iphone Users Take Radio to Heart
    Iphone owners have yet another source of content to tap, and this time it comes in the form of an innovative new service from Clear Channel's busy Interactive Division. The company's newly-arrived Iheart radio is designed to provide Iphone users with AT&T 3G data or Wi-fi connections instant access to the company's most popular stations and two Web/HD-only services.

    Using the Iheart network with a free downloadable application from Itunes, users will have more than just access to high quality streamed content. According to a CC memo, they'll also be able to immediately identify, view album artwork/lyrics, and automatically order any song via Itunes, while ratings data are automatically compiled by Ando. All advertising heard will be unique to Web listeners.

    Among the first stations to be offered on Iheart will be:

  • Z100 (New York)
  • Power 105.1 (New York)
  • KIIS-FM (Los Angeles)
  • KFI 640 AM (Los Angeles)
  • 103.5 KISS (Chicago)
  • Wild 949 (San Francisco)
  • KTRH-AM (Houston)
  • DC101 (Washington, DC)
  • Kiss 108 (Boston)
  • KFAN (Minneapolis

    The company promises to add new stations weekly, and will also offer exclusive Web/ HD2 products Erockster and Pride Radio.

    The free Iheart radio app will run on Apple Iphone, Iphone 3G or Ipod touch running Iphone OS 2.0.2 or later.


    Wunder Radio for Iphone Allows Access to Full Spectrum Web Radio
    Still another new application for the Iphone promises users access to not only 13,000 Web radio stations, but also local NOAA weather and some public safety radio services as well. Dubbed Wunder Radio, the new app was developed by online weather forecast service Weather Underground in cooperation with Web Radio site aggregator Radio Time, which boasts a portal to more than 60,000 radio stations streaming via MP3 and WMA codecs.

    One unique aspect of the software is that it leverages Iphone's GPS feature to allow users to find nearby broadcasters and specialized services such as NOAA weather radio and even public safety services such as fire, police and EMS streaming on the net via local scanner radio nodes.

    Weather Underground President Alan Steremberg, says his company originally developed the project to simply tap weather radio streams, but quickly realized the same software could be used to tap a galaxy of streaming audio content.


    Business

    UK Financial Downturn Stalls Commercial DAB Build-out
    An economic downturn in Great Britain could derail the build out of a new nationwide DAB multiplex that was to feature up to 12 commercial broadcast channels. The news came last week as commercial media firm Channel 4 announced it was withdrawing financial support for the project, citing sagging ad revenues across all segments of its business.

    Licenses to build and operate the new multiplex were granted by British telecom regulator Ofcom to a consortium led by Channel 4 more than a year ago. The new multiplex was intended to host 12 commercial channels to complement an existing DAB multiplex operated by the BBC. Hints of trouble surfaced earlier in the year as another commercial programmer, G Cap, cancelled due to the high costs of transmission fees, said to be about $1.7 million per channel (U.S.) annually. About $7 million has reportedly been invested in the project to date.

    What will happen next is unclear, as the remaining consortium members meet with Ofcom to discuss the fate of the license. But with commercial credit markets tight, and advertising revenues falling, finding additional private capital to finish the build-out could be difficult, so Ofcom may be forced to revisit a formerly rejected bid for the license from another radio group.

    Channel 4 CEO Andy Duncan was quoted as saying that his company's decision to pull its backing from the two-year project was made reluctantly.


    Wimax Rolls out in Baltimore – Really!
    After a long wait, and in the midst of an uncertain business climate, Sprint/Clearwire's Xohm Wimax wireless broadband service is now officially up and looking new for subscribers in the Baltimore market. Other markets, including Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Dallas are reportedly testing in preparation for launch and may already be accessible to new subscribers of the nationwide service. One of the more intriguing service plans currently offered by Xohm is its pick two package that allows a subscriber to operate two different devices on the network for about $50 a month.

    Anecdotal reviews from users in Baltimore indicate the service seems to work well, with data speeds averaging somewhere in the 3Mb/s range. Occasional dropouts are being reported during rolling application tests, though Xohm spokespersons say this is to be expected while the company continues to tweak the network and add more sites.

    Although the combination of Iphone coupled with AT&T 3G data service has already created considerable buzz among broadcasters, Wimax is being watched closely because the network embraces an open-access approach for manufacturers wanting to imbed readily available Intel Wimax chipsets in their devices. Thus, it's likely to be just a matter of time before dedicated Wimax radio devices begin to appear on the market.

    Another potential application of interest, the use of Wimax routers in autos, would utilize either wired or Bluetooth connectivity to service a host of automotive applications, including Internet radios.


    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by State: Hawaii
    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 six stations in the Aloha State broadcasting 10 HD Radio channels.

    MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner
    HonoluluKCCN- FM 100.3Hawaiian--Cox Radio
    HonoluluKINE- FM 105.1Hawaiian/CHR--Cox Radio
    HonoluluKIKI- FM 93.9Hip HopOld School Hip Hop-Clear Channel
    HonoluluKDNN- FM 98.5HawaiianMainstream Country-Clear Channel
    HonoluluKSSK- FM 92.3ACThe Lounge - Jazz-Clear Channel
    HonoluluKUCD- FM 101.9AlternativeRadio Free Hawaii-Clear Channel

    Eye on IBOC

    Ibiquity News Flurry Precedes Hong Kong Electronics Fair
    Ibiquity Digital Corporation's PR department sent a stack of press releases just ahead of this week's Hong Kong Electronics Fair, billed by organizers as Asia's biggest electronics event, a must-attend for designers, manufacturers and vendors looking to connect in the fast-paced world of consumer gadgetry. Among the many announcements floated were those of new reference platforms for low-power portable receivers, data tuners and USB devices.

    A new low-power tuner application is being offered as a developer's package. Based on Samsung EM's small-footprint Core-CR module using Ibiquity's 2129 or 2023 interfaces, the platform can be specifically tailored to the needs of designers looking for a discrete, small form factor tuner to leverage HD Radio datacast capability, or used to produce a portable receiver capable of being operated from a couple of AA batteries.

    Also being introduced is a USB HD Radio reference design that uses a slave microprocessor to attach to USB host devices, providing audio without the requirement for proprietary drivers. The platform can also provide analog audio and SPDIF outputs, powered by either USB or external supplies.

    New HD Radio modules are entering the marketplace as well. Now that Ibiquity has completed certification of Samsung's high performance/low-power 2023-CR HD Radio module, a number of firms are submitting new module designs using both the new Samsung chipsets along with those from rival Siport. Kensen and Wistron Neweb technologies have announced the availability of new modules based on both chipsets, while Kwang Sung Electronics H.K. offers Samsung based modules that offer receiver manufacturers the option of a drop-in replacement for previous versions of Texas Instruments DRi352 based modules.

    For receiver manufacturers looking to move HD Radio products to market quickly, Samboo Infotech claims to offer a full range of services, including hardware/software design, certification, as well as mass production.

    The Hong Kong Electronics Fair wraps up on Oct. 16.


    HD Radio Terminology

    The New Language of Digital Radio
    absolute layer 1 frame number (ALFN): A sequential number assigned to every Layer 1 frame. The start time of ALFN 0 was 00:00:00 Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) on Jan. 6, 1980. Each subsequent ALFN is incremented by one from the previous ALFN. The present time can be calculated by multiplying the next frame's ALFN times the frame duration, Tf, and adding the total to the start time of ALFN 0.

    L2 PDU (Protocol Data Unit): Units of upper-layer content and protocol control information transferred from Layer 2 to Layer 1.

    symbol: A modulated waveform having a duration of one symbol period, Ts that conveys one vector of binary data. For instance, a QPSK-modulated OFDM subcarrier conveys two bits per symbol, while an IBOC logical channel consisting of, say, 50 QPSK subcarriers, would convey 50 x 2 = 100 bits per symbol.


    Products

    Frontier Silicon Modules Drive New DAB/Internet Radio Devices
    New HD Radio chipsets and modules aren't the only hot items for consumer audio firms at this week's Hong Kong Electronics Fair. Frontier Silicon is using the venue as a showcase for its new Venice 6.2 product, a low-cost, low-power Internet radio module that combines embedded Wi-fi capability with comprehensive codec support, including AAC, AAC+, MP3, WMA, Real and lossless codecs. It's also certified for interface with Apple's Ipod and Iphone.

    Frontier says the Venice 6.2 module utilizes a full chip-down design to reduce the cost of implementing Wi-fi radio and is a plug-in replacement for its earlier Venice 6 product.

    Meeting the needs of Europe's digital broadcast consumers is Frontier's new Venice 7 module. Fully compliant with the Europe-wide Profile 1 requirements from World DMB and EBU, Venice 7 is designed as a drop-in replacement for existing Venice 5-based radios, providing a 50 percent reduction in power consumption, and is built around the company's new Kino 3 baseband processor chip that supports DAB, DAB+, DMB-A and FM without the need for external SDRAM memory.

    Frontier boasts that the Venice 7 module includes all interfaces necessary for a fully functional radio, needing only power supply, display, keypad, audio amplifier and speakers to complete a product.




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