IBOC Update - Mar 24, 2004

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Ibiquity Strengthens HD Radio Commercialization Team

Columbia, MD - Ibiquity Digital Corporation has added two new members to its commercialization team to assist in the expanded rollout of AM/FM digital radio. Peter Brady, former director of sales for Sony Electronics, joins Ibiquity as director of aftermarket business development, and Bob Dillon, former CEO of Enikia, assumes the role of director of IC strategic marketing.

As director of aftermarket business development, Brady will work with receiver manufacturers to bring additional HD Radio products to market and with retailers to increase the outlets for those products. Brady will draw on his 18 years of experience with Sony Electronics, where he worked with retailers in launching a variety of the company's consumer electronics products.

As director of IC strategic marketing, Dillon will be in charge of developing and strengthening Ibiquity's ties with semiconductor suppliers to help increase the availability of HD Radio chip sets. Dillon has ten years of experience working in the semiconductor and networking industries in both business and engineering roles, including former positions as CEO of Enikia Incorporated, a privately held developer of power-line networking silicon, and vice president of Aware Incorporated, a leading developer of xDSL technology.


Broadcast Electronics Partners With E-radio

Quincy, IL and Toronto, ON - Broadcast Electronics and E-radio have announced a partnership in support of RBDS (radio broadcast data systems) and HD Radio data applications. This joint effort takes advantage of Broadcast Electronics' experience in RF and content management along with E-radio's expertise in text service and media delivery applications.

By combining efforts with E-radio, Broadcast Electronics will offer a complete datacasting system for current RBDS implementations and the developing market for HD Radio applications. An immediate result of this collaboration is Broadcast Electronics' Radio Data Dimensions, a new data management software suite to be unveiled at NAB 2004.

In addition to the software's ability to manage RBDS eight-character identifiers and 64-character text for the display of title/artists, promotional messages, advertiser IDs, traffic bulletins, and AMBER alerts, the suite includes support for HD Radio's secondary program channel services such as NPR's Tomorrow Radio. Radio Data Dimensions also provides bandwidth provisioning for navigational system data downloads to tuners. All functions and user controls for the software suite are accessible from a Web-browser content management tool.

FCC Update

NPR Submits Tomorrow Radio Report to FCC

In a March 10 letter filed with the FCC, National Public Radio (NPR) formally announced its submission of an engineering report purported to clearly demonstrate the practical feasibility of transmitting a supplemental audio channel (SAC) on IBOC-equipped FM stations. The letter followed a series of meetings between NPR's Mike Starling, VP of engineering and operations, and Mike Risken, NPR VP of government relations, with legal representatives for FCC Commissioners Copps and Adelstein and FCC Chairman Powell. On March 11, a day after the filing of the report, NPR's Starling and Risken, along with representatives from consulting engineers Hamett and Edison and Kenwood America's Mike Bergmen met with FCC Media Bureau staff to explain the data and answer questions.

In a nutshell, NPR takes the position that the process of splitting a 96kb/s FM IBOC digital signal into a 64kb/s main audio program (MAP) channel and a 32kb/s SAC channel has been technically validated and is a viable mode for FM IBOC broadcasting using the Ibiquity system. Based on favorable field tests conducted with four of NPR's major-market affiliate stations and documented by Hamett and Edison, NPR "respectfully requests the Commission to authorize FM stations to implement the SAC capability of HD Radio, either in the context of a further notice of proposed rulemaking or based on consideration of SAC alone, but, in any event, as soon as possible and without requiring new station licensing."

In its letter, NPR stressed that public radio's transition to digital service will not only be driven by a quest for improved audio quality and reduced interference, but by "the expanded public service and programming opportunities demonstrated and proven by the Tomorrow Radio project." While the concept of an FM licensee offering multiple program streams poses no obvious regulatory hurdles, given the precedent of FM stations carrying alternate programming on analog SCA channels, it appears that the FCC will continue to require stations operating in IBOC hybrid analog/digital mode to maintain common program material on their analog and MAP channels for the foreseeable future. Industry observers note that commercial stations interested in carrying SAC channels may also face additional licensing fees from Ibiquity relative to the amount of revenue such additional programming generates.

More information about the Tomorrow Radio project is available in the March 2004 issue of Radio magazine, or online at

FCC Authorizes Use of Dual Antenna Digital Hybrid Operation

Washington, DC - In Public Notice DA 04-712 issued on March 17, 2004, the FCC declared that it will permit FM stations operating in FM IBOC hybrid modes to use separate antennas for the transmission of analog and digital carriers, but only if it authorizes such operation through the issuance of a routine Special Temporary Authorization (STA). The statement was issued in response to a report submitted to the FCC on July 24, 2003, by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) regarding the use of separate antennas for the analog and digital components of the hybrid FM IBOC signal. That report included field test data prepared by an ad hoc technical group, and recommended that the Commission permit FM stations implementing IBOC transmissions to use separate antennas for analog and digital signals, provided that certain technical criteria are met by the licensees.

After issuance of a Public Notice on Dec. 8, 2003, the Commission sought comment on the conclusions and recommendations made by the NAB report. Several commenters suggested broadening the NAB recommendations to include dual-antenna systems at variance with the NAB recommendations, while a number of other commenters supported the NAB recommendations as submitted.

After a review of the NAB report and all subsequent comments, the Commission concluded that to simply allow separate antenna operation under the current interim IBOC FM authorization procedures would exceed the intended scope of the procedures laid out in the current IBOC order. Under those regulations, stations may operate IBOC facilities similar to those evaluated by the National Radio Systems Committee, but only after notifying the FCC of their intent.

Recognizing that further rulemaking will be required regarding the long-term operation of IBOC AM and FM service, the FCC deferred final consideration of the issue to a future notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). However the FCC did specify that stations interested in dual antennae operation may request a routine STA, providing that the second (digital) antenna meets the following requirements, recommended in the NAB report:

  • The digital transmission must use a licensed auxiliary antenna.

  • The auxiliary antenna must be within three seconds of latitude and longitude of the main antenna.

  • The height above average terrain of the auxiliary antennas must be between 70 and 100 percent of the height above average terrain of the main antenna.

    The FCC also stipulated that digital and analog signals fed to the same set of active, radiating elements, constitute a combined system, and that licensees may obtain authority to operate this kind of system in accordance with the existing notification procedures set forth in the IBOC Order. Where different sets of active, radiating elements are used for the analog and digital signals, the system will be considered as a separate-antenna system, and subject to the STA procedures announced in the FCC's Public Notice DA 04-712.

    Typically, a request for STA must be filed at least 10 days before commencing proposed operation, and an STA is only valid for a period of 180 days - though multiple extensions may be granted. Presumably, the Commission will address the issue in an NPRM before such renewals would be exhausted.

    Questions regarding Public Notice DA 04-712 can be directed to Ed De La Hunt, Charles N. Miller, or Ann Gallagher at the FCC Media Bureau, (202) 418-2700.

Ibiquity Files Report on AM IBOC Nighttime Operation with FCC

In support of an NAB recommendation that the FCC permit operation of AM HD Radio digital transmissions during nighttime hours, Ibiquity filed a three-part technical report with the FCC on March 5. The report, consisting of a AM nighttime compatibility study and two field reports on AM IBOC nighttime performance measurements, were submitted for FCC review in hopes of obtaining a decision by the FCC to allow interim nighttime operation of AM stations transmitting an HD Radio signal. Currently, such stations are only authorized to conduct digital transmission during daylight operating periods.

While the NAB Radio Board voted on January 20 to openly support interim AM IBOC night operation, it did so with the reasoning that the IBOC AM's relative advantages were so great as to outweigh its negative impact on secondary AM coverage. The NAB repeated this position in a letter filed with the FCC on the same day Ibiquity filed their report, stating in part that "the dramatically improved audio quality from IBOC service at is well worth the predicted and limited reductions in analog coverage…in the event that there are reductions in stations' primary nighttime analog service areas beyond those predicted by the studies, the FCC should take steps to address those problems."

Opponents to AM IBOC night operation have filed comments that point to reduced AM coverage as "unacceptable" and have proposed that analog CQUAM stereo instead be mandated as the default night time operating mode for IBOC AM stations.

Eye on IBOC

We Want to Hear from You

We will continue to cover the news and technology of IBOC and HD Radio as it develops. We want to hear your stories as well. Tell us about your experience in installing IBOC equipment and your research of the technology to implement it at your station. If you have signed an IBOC transmitter on the air, tell us.

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HD Radio Terminology

An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio

main program service (MPS)

: The main program service allows the transmission of existing analog radio-programming in both analog and digital formats. MPS includes the main program service audio (MPA) and the main program service data (MPS Data).

main program audio (MPA): Part of the MPS, the main program audio is the primary audio portion of the IBOC signal.

main program service data (MPS Data): The MPS Data provides additional information about the audio, which also referred to as program-associated data (PAD).


Details of IBOC Power Measurement Featured in NAB Session

David Maxson of Broadcast Signal Lab is scheduled to present IBOC RF Measurements, a paper explaining the complexities of digital RF power measurement at the upcoming NAB2004 Broadcast Engineering Conference. In his presentation Maxson will detail some of the challenges broadcasters face when making RF measurements of IBOC radio signals.

The issues, according to Maxson, stem from the complex nature of the digital carriers generated by IBOC and other digital transmission schemes. Techniques traditionally used to measure FM analog broadcast carrier power, such as transmission line reflectometers or observation of a transmitter's final amplifier DC input power, are unsuitable for measuring the dynamic, wideband emissions of digital carriers. The situation becomes more complex when considering that broadcasters transmitting hybrid digital signals, such as HD Radio, must continuously maintain a fixed ratio between the power of digital and analog carriers. Still another concern is the need to monitor and correct out-of-band emissions (so called "spectral regrowth") that may result from intermodulation of carriers brought on by nonlinear characteristics in a given transmission system. The author concludes that a new approach to signal monitoring and measurement is needed for broadcasters intent on transmitting high quality IBOC digital radio signals.

Maxson's presentation will offer a number of insights gleaned from actual spectral analysis of an operating hybrid IBOC FM station in Boston. This paper will be presented as part of the Radio RF and Transmission Developments session at the BEC on Tuesday, April 20, 2004 at 9:30 a.m. in room N110 of the LVCC.


Nautel To Unveil AM and FM IBOC Products at NAB2004

Nautel will introduce three additions to its digital transmission lineup at NAB2004. The new AM and FM offerings are specifically designed for HD Radio transmission and feature plug and play compatibility with Nautel's existing NE IBOC digital generator.

The J1000 is a 19" rack-mount 1kW AM transmitter that uses direct digital synthesis (DDS) technology to produce logic level RF drive and modulation encoding. Extended band performance supports both HD Radio and DRM digital transmission formats, while control and monitoring are provided via 240 x 64 graphic LCD display. A redundant modular design utilizes two independent 500W wideband power modules, each encompassing RF amplifier, modulator, and power supply functions. The J1000 also provides six preset RF power levels with programmable timed automatic power level selection for up to 12 months.

On the FM side, Nautel will debut its M50 direct-to-digital exciter for FM and HD Radio. The wideband M50 uses digital signal processing and field-programmable gate array technology, enabling direct conversion of source audio to low-level FM signal. Digital processing compensates for non-linearities that may be introduced in the transmission system while adaptive pre-distortion and pre-equalization ensures the hybrid HD Radio signal is compliant with spectral limitations.

The V10 10kW FM IBOC transmitter provides a platform for broadcasters interested in the space-saving convenience of low-level digital/analog combining. Featuring a linear, broadband design, the V10 is capable of up to 3.2kW digital, 7.7kW hybrid or 11kW analog operation with no tuning required for frequency agility. RF and power supply modules are hot-swappable, and the transmitter accommodates redundant exciters, IPAs, IPA power supplies, and low-voltage power supplies. Both the M50 and V10 provide graphical user interfaces along with flow diagrams and event logging.

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