IBOC Update - May 12, 2004

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HD Radio Named IT Product of the Year

Ibiquity Digital's HD Radio technology has been named IT Product of the Year by the Tech Council of Maryland (TCM). The award, presented on April 26 by Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, was among the highlights of a gala dinner attended by more than 700 area technology leaders.

The award highlights how the pending adoption of IBOC digital transmission technology promises to change consumer perceptions of radio broadcasting as an old-line technology.

"With products ranging from CD's and DVD's to cameras and cell phones now using digital technology, AM and FM radio is the last major analog communications medium. By helping stations around the country convert to digital, Ibiquity's HD Radio technology is revolutionizing the entire radio broadcast industry, and for that reason, they were honored as our Product of the Year," said Dyan Brasington, president of the Tech Council of Maryland, a non-profit membership consortium open to high technology firms, government laboratories, higher education institutions and business support firms that collectively form Maryland's technology community.


Pick Hits Recognize IBOC

The Radio magazine Pick Hit awards, presented at NAB2004, distinguish the top 15 new product introductions at the convention. Now in its 20th year, the Pick Hit Awards recognize new product introductions at the NAB convention that offer significant technological improvements and serve everyday applications.

While this honor is not limited to IBOC technology, several products relate to IBOC. The complete list of award recipients:

  • Aphex 148

  • Belar HD Radio Monitor

  • Broadcast Electronics Big Pipe

  • Broadcast Electronics XPi10

  • Broadcast Tools WRC-4

  • Comrex STAC

  • Dovetail Science DBM-300

  • Enco Guardien

  • Henry Engineering Studio Drive

  • Microgen TS 9000

  • Middle Atlantic WR Series rolling/rotating racks

  • Narda Selective Radiation Meter

  • Rohde & Schwarz FSH3

  • TFT 460

  • Tieline Imix G3

In addition, the Pick Hits judges recognized three Technology Honors, which recognize technology in general that is a part of several products. Two of these three honors relate to IBOC. A Technology Honor for multi-channel IBOC audio recognizes the work in demonstrations shown by Harris, Neural Audio, Omnia Audio, Fraunhofer and NPR. Three demonstrations of multi-channel audio for FM IBOC were displayed at the convention.

A Technology Honor for dual-feed IBOC antennas recognizes the long-term operating efficiency along with ideal compatibility performance that these antenna systems provide. ERI, Dielectric and Shively displayed variations of this technology.

Complete details of these product and systems will be in the June of Radio magazine.

FCC Update

Replies to FCC's FNPRM/NOI Reflect Broad Policy Concerns on IBOC DAB

Early replies to a final notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) and companion notice of inquiry (NOI) issued by the FCC nearly a month ago appear to point to gathering controversy over the direction of IBOC DAB in the U.S. A recent survey of comments filed suggests that two major issues are rising to the top of the FCC's DAB agenda, the first of which involves the recent demonstration of FM HD Radios' capacity for multicasting via the transmission of secondary audio channels (SACs). Specifically, some commenters seek assurances that SACs will be subject to the same political candidacy rules as current analog program channels. Another area of concern involves the kind of requirements the FCC might impose to assure that the additional program streams would offer some level of local programming, as opposed to simply filling the channels with readily available satellite-provided content. One commenter went so far as to say that the FCC should reduce the permissible number of FM licenses held by a single owner in a given market by half should those stations choose to multicast, while another suggested that a localism requirement could be fulfilled using any of a given station's multiple audio streams. Broadcasters are almost certain to oppose any introduction of new local program content requirements.

Other multicasting issue arose regarding the permissible functionality of translators, given the possibility that they, too, might carry multiple program streams. Some sentiment was expressed was that the FCC should require third-party ownership of all digital translators, thus overturning current translator rules regarding NCE licensees who can currently own multiple translators with remotely fed systems, a view not likely to win a warm reception among those supportive of public and religious broadcasters.

The other major area of concern revolves around digital content control. As multiple filings by the RIAA, BMG music, the Consumer Electronics Association and other organizations make clear, this is a high stakes issue that is unlikely to fade away. What recording industry representatives are demanding is an embedded anti-copy flag similar to that developed for DTV, contrary to the wishes of consumer equipment manufacturers and consumer rights advocates. How the FCC will act in this instance is unclear, but it's likely that pressure from both sides will continue to build.

Curiously, there are few comments thus far regarding technical issues. Though a few individuals have opposed nighttime AM IBOC operation due to its adverse impact on adjacent channel secondary coverage interference, there has been little or no discussion of new emission standards, monitoring, or technical record requirements.

With a July 16 deadline for comments looming, the volume of filings is expected to accelerate in June, and some observers are already saying that the Commission will extend the deadline for an additional period. This should allow stakeholders the time they need to prepare comprehensive responses to the wide range of issues involved with the pending rulemaking.

Eye on IBOC

Public Radio Stations Begin Digital Transition

Washington - May 12, 2004 - The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has announced that it will issue grants totaling more than $2.3 million to help 29 additional public radio stations, including 19 serving rural and minority audiences, purchase the equipment needed to transition to IBOC digital radio. These funds are part of the nearly $150 million in funding that Congress has provided to CPB over the last four years to assist both public radio and public television stations to convert from analog transmission to digital.

This announcement marks the third round of grants to assist local public radio stations in making the digital transition. Last month, CPB announced digital grants to 76 public radio stations serving 32 states and territories. Also, the CPB Board of Directors recently approved a plan (based on management recommendations and a consultation with a joint industry panel) for allocating nearly $50 million in special fiscal year 2004 digital transition funds provided by Congress. This action will set aside more than $4 million to fund efforts to create digital content and services for public television (the first time such funding has been available); $30 million will support public television activities; the remaining $15 million will support public radio.

To date, CPB has provided grants to more than 170 public television stations and 147 public radio stations to begin their digital transition. Stations will be able to apply for another round of digital funding this summer. Additional awards for public television to convert to digital also will be announced this spring. Final grants are contingent upon final equipment costs and contract negotiations with individual stations.

Recipients of this funding round include:

  • Alabama

    : WUAL-FM, Tuscaloosa

  • Alaska

    : KCAW-FM, Sitka; KCHU-AM, Valdez; KNBA-FM, Anchorage; KRBD-FM, Ketchikan; KTOO-FM, Juneau; KYUK-AM, Bethel; KSKA-FM, Anchorage

  • Idaho

    : KBSU-AM, Boise

  • Iowa

    : WSUI-AM, Iowa City; KBBG-FM, Waterloo

  • Michigan

    : WKAR-FM, East Lansing

  • Minnesota

    : KNOW-FM, St. Paul/Minneapolis; KNSR-FM, St. Cloud/Collegeville; KSJN-FM, St. Cloud/Collegeville; KSJR-FM, St. Cloud/Collegeville

  • New York

    : WNED-AM, Buffalo; WAMC-FM, Albany

  • New Jersey

    : WWFM, Trenton

  • North Carolina

    : WRVS-FM, Elizabeth City; WSHA-FM, Raleigh

  • Ohio

    : WOSU-FM, Columbus; WOSU-AM, Columbus

  • Pennsylvania

    : WJAZ-FM, Philadelphia

  • Virginia

    : WVTU-FM, Roanoke; WVTW-FM, Roanoke

  • Washington

    : KFAE-FM, Pullman; KNWY-FM, Pullman

  • Wisconsin

    : WHA-AM, Madison

The CPB is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 to develop educational public radio, television and online services for the United States.

Boston Station Installs BE HD Radio Equipment

Quincy, IL - May 6, 2004 - Boston’s Folk Radio WUMB-FM went on the air with Broadcast Electronics’ FMI-106 HD Radio transmitter in March.

The installation was completed in only 4-1/2 hours. The engineers had just a few hours to exchange transmitters due to the tight confines of WUMB-FM’s transmitter facility. Wedged between the outer wall of a water tank and the inner wall of a surrounding granite structure built to look like a medieval castle turret, the curved room is only three feet wide.

The engineers installed the BE FMI-106 transmitter in a low-level combined configuration to transmit WUMB-FM’s analog signal of 660 watts Effective Radiated Power (ERP) as well as the corresponding HD Radio signal. They also installed Broadcast Electronics’ FSI 10 to generate the digital signal and Broadcast Electronics’ FXI 60 exciter to modulate the HD Radio and analog carriers.


Tomorrow Radio: In the Spotlight and on the Air

NPR and Harris Corporation found this year's NAB convention to be fertile ground for demonstration and discussion of a jointly developed FM HD Radio multicast concept known as Tomorrow Radio. Utilizing a demonstration platform featuring D.A.V.I.D. Systems integrated audio and data management system coupled with Harris' HD Radio transmission components, visitors were able to get a first hand look at how multiple program audio streams and PAD/non PAD data can be transmitted on a single FM HD Radio signal and successfully received and decoded by a Kenwood HD Radio receiver.

The demonstration, which also incorporated DigAirange scheduling software and the DigiSystem database manager, was designed to show how every link of a multicast digital broadcast operation, down to digital field recording and editing of live audio, can be effectively handled in an integrated digital environment. The platform also included a broadcast utility server (BUS), which acts as an import/export client for PAD and non-PAD data.

Tomorrow Radio's developers have since expanded their demonstration beyond the convention floor. Within weeks after the NAB closed, American University's WAMU-FM in Washington DC commenced HD Radio operation with the Tomorrow Radio project under a Special Temporary Authorization (STA) issued by the FCC. The STA permits WAMU to transmit an SAC audio stream for demonstration purposes, bringing Tomorrow Radio home to Washington's policy makers in a very tangible way.

Operating with a main digital audio stream data rate of 64kb/s and a supplemental channel rate of 32kb/s, the station simulcast its analog programs on the main stream as a seven-minute demonstration program loop streams on the SAC (labeled WAMU 2), leaving the D.A.V.I.D. systems hardware to manage the transmission of PAD/non-PAD data.

The WAMU HD Radio transmission system consists of a Harris Dexstar exciter and Flexstar importer coupled to a Z8HDS transmitter, which is high level combined with the station's analog signal. Like many other NPR affiliates, WAMU funded the conversion project with CPB grant funding.

Harris Standardizes Mimic Capability in Neustar

Mimic, a proprietary neural technology that can duplicate any sound signature in a matter of seconds, is now a standard feature of the Harris Neustar HD Radio codec processors.

Using spectral image mapping techniques, Harris claims that Mimic eliminates painstaking audio analysis and hours of manual tweaking that have been necessary to replicate a sound signature in the past.

NeustarHD-AM and NeustarHD-FM are said to be the first codec processors for HD Radio. Harris explains that its product processes in three important HD Radio dimensions: it "cleans" audio, removing noise, hum and other unwanted artifacts; it pre-treats audio to optimize HDC codec performance; and it ensures overall audio quality and consistency, akin to the function of analog audio processors. NeuStarHD also claims to fix corrupt contributed content that has been poorly mixed and recorded, regardless of its original format.

In FM, with a channel capacity that is nearly three times greater than AM's, Neustar's bit-reduction capability is said to increase bandwidth efficiency by 30 percent, enabling multiple program streams to be delivered over a single channel. NeustarHD-FM's Supplemental Audio Channel capability was demonstrated during National Public Radio's extensive Tomorrow Radio tests. Additionally, the product can enable downmixed, 5.1 surround sound audio to be delivered over an existing 2.0 stereo backbone.

Broadcast Electronics Introduces TRPDi Concept and HD Radio Guarantee

Broadcast Electronics has launched an initiative with an HD Radio guarantee assurance that every AM or FM transmitter currently the company sells is HD Radio-compatible. The company also claims that its transmitters are fully compatible with NPR's Tomorrow Radio architecture

Another debut at the convention was BE's TRPDi concept, which claims to create a fully integrated approach to the generation, transmission, and management of every facet of HD Radio audio and data transmission. The new XPi10 studio HD Radio signal generator exemplifies this unified approach. By generating the more compact HD Radio signal at the studio rather than at the transmitter, the XPi10 reduces STL bandwidth requirements.

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

Inside RF

4 Times Completes Antenna Install

New York - Apr 30, 2004 - Shively Labs has completed the completion of its master FM antenna system atop the Conde Nast Building at 4 Times Square in New York City. The new antenna system doubles the FM station capacity of the Durst Organization site to 21 stations, which is enough to handle all the FM stations presently broadcasting from the multiple antennas atop the Empire State Building. The 4 Times site is also the first major broadcast facility designed from conception to handle analog and digital broadcasting. Digital capability is not currently available to most NYC radio stations. Planning for the new system began shortly after the 9/11 tragedy when it became apparent that additional broadcast capacity was required to replace transmission sites lost at the World Trade Center.

The antenna is the second Shively Model 6016 FM panel antenna to occupy this site and replaces a system installed in 1999. During the nearly one year that it took to remove the old tower, reinforce the building, and erect the new tower, FM service continued uninterrupted on a Shively Model 6017 Lindenblad antenna.

The installation was profiled in the November 2003 issue of Radio magazine. Read that article by following this link.

The antenna is fed from a Shively Labs model 2540 balanced combiner system. Currently operating with nine stations, the combiner can be expanded to handle all 21 stations. The combiner is designed to accommodate HD Radio implementation using the back-feed method, pioneered by Shively Labs, which passes the analog and digital signals through the combiner independently and combines them in the antenna.

The tower was constructed by ERI, who was also the lead contractor on site for the installation. The radio antenna transmission line was supplied by Myat.

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