IBOC Update - Feb 25, 2004

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KRGN-FM and WNRK-FM Tap Harris for HD Radio

Cincinnati - KRGN-FM, Amarillo, TX, and WNRK-FM, Norwalk, OH, have selected Harris HD Radio transmission systems and other broadcast equipment for their implementation of HD Radio.

KRGN has purchased Harris' Z4HDS FM digital and HT 25CD FM analog transmitters for its separate amplification installation, as well as an FM antenna, transmission line, studio-to-transmitter link system and studio equipment. WNRK, a repeater station for Kent State University's radio station WKSU-FM, has purchased a Harris Z8HDC FM digital transmitter, a Dexstar FM digital exciter, and a Neustar codec processor. WNRK is one of four repeater stations for WKSU and will be the first digital build-out in the network.

FCC Update

NPR and FCC Finalizing Presentation Date for Tomorrow Radio Report

NPR will present the contents of Hammett and Edison's engineering report regarding the extensive testing of supplemental radio channels via HD Radio to the Federal Communications Commission sometime in "early March" according to NPR spokesperson Jenny Lawhorn. In a telephone interview with Radio magazine on Feb 23, Lawhorn said there were three dates currently under discussion and that an announcement would be forthcoming.

Presentation of the report to the FCC is seen as a major step in obtaining the Commission's approval for HD Radio hybrid FM stations to transmit multiple digital audio streams, referred to as supplemental audio channels, or SACs. NPR and its nationwide group of non-commercial FM affiliates are extremely interested in this technology, since it would allow a single affiliate to offer simultaneous music and talk programming. The Tomorrow Radio project included an extensive field test of the technology by an industry consortium headed by NPR and partially funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

A complete rundown of the study and report will appear in the March issue of Radio magazine.

NAB Opposes Alert Devices Petition in Comments to FCC, Cites IBOC Concerns

The National Association of Broadcasters filed comments on Feb. 12 asking the FCC to deny a petition for rulemaking previously filed by Alert Devices International Corporation. The Alert Device petition seeks to amend the Commission's rules to allow emergency vehicle warnings to be transmitted over AM and FM broadcast radio signals, thereby creating an Emergency Vehicle Signaling Service ("EVSS"). If approved, emergency vehicles would be permitted to broadcast low power signals in both the AM and FM broadcast bands with the intent of overriding broadcast signals in order to alert motorists of the emergency vehicle’s presence.

Among the multiple objections to the proposal cited by the NAB was the observation that no testing of the proposed system's effect on IBOC digital systems has been performed by the new systems proponents, and asserting, in part, that "the Commission must ensure that EVSS devices [do] not cause interference to any authorized service, including IBOC. The [Alert Devices] petition presents no evidence that would allow the Commission to make that judgment."

The NAB filing also commented that "Alert Devices is already marketing and selling its transmitting device. NAB objects to Alert Devices' marketing and selling these devices without any FCC approval and…strongly urges the Commission to immediately require Alert Devices to suspend all sales of these transmitting devices pending the outcome of this proceeding… NAB objects to Alert Devices' marketing and selling these devices without any FCC approval and we strongly urge the Commission to immediately require Alert Devices to suspend all sales of these transmitting devices pending the outcome of this proceeding."

As of the date of this report, no reply to the numerous comments received regarding the petition has been filed by Alert Devices, and there is no indication of how the Commission will rule. Interested parties can view all the documents at
http://gullfoss2.fcc.gov/prod/ecfs/comsrch_v2.cgi. Be sure to reference comments and replies in proceeding RM-10836.

Eye on IBOC

HD Radio Adoption Curve On the Upswing Among Broadcasters, Receiver Manufacturers

While the FCC hears a variety of proposals regarding how it will permit implementation of IBOC digital broadcasting in the United States, HD Radio quietly continues to build momentum with broadcasters and consumer electronics manufacturers, two industries essential to its embrace by the domestic entertainment market.

The number of broadcasters authorized to transmit an IBOC signal is growing monthly. A recent count indicates that more than 300 stations are now on the air in more than 36 markets, making their digital signals available to an estimated 100 million consumers. Four of the major HD Radio launch markets, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago, have a minimum of 10 stations operating in IBOC, while two markets, Los Angeles and Miami, have more than 18 stations each. By the end of 2004, it's conservatively estimated that more than 600 stations will be HD Radio equipped. Regulatory changes that could substantially reduce entry cost for FM stations and permit the sought-after implementation of secondary audio channels (permitting multicasting) could well triple that number in 2005.

Receiver manufacturers, a key part of the adoption equation, are also crossing the threshold. Panasonic and Alps, who are starting to ship product to the US, join Kenwood USA, the first company to actually realize retail sales of an HD Radio tuner chassis just a month ago. Semiconductor leviathan Texas Instruments recently offered its TMS320DR1250 single-chip solution for manufacturers seeking quick entry into the market - and earned a coveted Product of the Year award from Electronics Products magazine in January. Phillips semiconductor has responded to TI's challenge with its SAF3550 chip. In all, it's likely that at least eight different consumer electronic brands will be actively marketing HD compatible products by year's end.

The future of HD Radio and the fate of its developer, Ibiquity Digital, are still in question. But with an improving economy, and growing consumer interest in America's IBOC system, digital radio continues to make steady progress.

HD Radio Terminology

An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio

hybrid operation

: Refers to the operation of FM IBOC that combines a standard FM analog composite baseband modulation scheme operating in tandem with the HD Radio digital signal modulation subcarriers. Hybrid operation allows for compatibility between broadcasters and new digital receivers as well as existing analog receivers.

all-digital operation: Refers to FM IBOC operation that does not include the traditional analog composite baseband signals. More robust and with more capacity than the hybrid system, this mode is currently envisioned as a migration point for broadcasters as analog FM broadcasting is eventually phased out.


Broadcast Electronics to Unveil IBOC Offerings at NAB 2004

Quincy, IL - Broadcast Electronics will unveil new HD Radio products during NAB2004. Included in the lineup are new BE FSi10 and ASi10 signal generators for digital FM and AM HD Radio, as well as a complementary broadband microwave link and a data management system for both HD and RBDS systems.

The FSi 10 HD Radio signal generator provides a low-voltage data stream (LVDS) signal to the new exciter. In tandem, the two units generate the digital RF signal to be combined with analog FM for use in hybrid systems. The FSi 10 also provides delay matching of the analog and HD Radio audio paths, and encoding of the HD Radio Digital signal. When used with the FXi series digital FM exciter and its HD Radio plug in option card, these two units provide an HD Radio plus FM output for use in low-level combined systems, or an HD Radio only signal for use in high-level combined implementations.

The ASi 10 HD Radio signal generator compliments BE’s line of solid-state AM transmitters, accepting an AES/EBU signal from the program source, and splitting it into digital and analog paths for connection to discrete audio processing. The separately processed AES/EBU audio returns to the ASi 10 where the timing of the analog and digital are synchronized and the digital signal encoded. The two signals are then combined, providing phase and amplitude information sent directly to the AM transmitter. A 400 x 600 VGA color display is provided for control and monitoring and is standard on both the FSi 10 and ASi 10 models.

Providing for the studio to transmitter link support for HD Radio's ability to carry multiple data streams, BE will introduce a new all-digital wireless 5GHz point-to-point broadband link capable of up to 45Mb/s. With configurable data allocation, the new broadband link will be able to carry a combination of digital audio, analog audio, AES/EBU uncompressed audio, Ethernet, RS-232 and HD Radio data.

To round off its new offerings, the company will also demonstrate a data applications management system designed to provide broadcasters integrated control of both RBDS and HD ancillary text/data functionality, including automated tuner options.

Harris to Intro New IBOC Transmitters

Cincinnati - With a new line of 10W to 600W HD Radio transmitters, Harris can now support multiplexer input, interleaved antenna and separate antenna applications. Like the Z-HD radio transmitters, the Mini-HD line is available with the Neustar option, which can be configured to enable supplemental audio channels and 5.1 surround sound applications. The new products will be unveiled at NAB2004.

Car Audio Retailers Crutchfield, HookedOnTronics, Offer New Panasonic HD Radio Receiver

Two major electronics retailers are now offering consumers a choice in HD Radio car receivers as a second offering appeared in the online catalogs of Internet/mail-order giants Crutchfield and HookedOnTronics.com this month. Joining Kenwood's KTC-HR100 tuner is Panasonic's new MXE CQ-CB9900U single-DIN receiver, offering HD Radio along with the ability to run CD audio and text along with MP3s. Detailed specifications and pricing information are viewable at both retailers websites, though neither has committed to shipping before April.

HD Radio proponents see the appearance of the Panasonic HD Radio product as significant, because it expands the field beyond the Kenwood IBOC tuner currently holding the distinction of being the only consumer product to be sold in the US as of February 2004.

Consumer automotive electronics manufacturers Alps, Delphi, Jensen, JVC, Sanyo and Visteon are all expected to ship HD Radio-compatible products sometime during the coming year, but no firm dates or details have yet been made available.

More from Radio magazine

The Digital Age Has Arrived

In Radio magazine's February issue, editor Chriss Scherer discusses the beginning of the digital radio age. Read it online at this link.

The IBOC FM Waveform

Also in the February issue of Radio magazine, John Battison covers the details of the IBOC waveform used for FM in the RF Engineering column. While stations may not deal with the fine intricacies of IBOC on a daily basis, understanding how the system works is essential to maintaining it.

Read the article online by following
this link.

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