Washington, DC - Nov 5, 2009 - Ibiquity Digital and NPR have reached an agreement for managing an HD Radio digital level power increase. The two organizations are jointly presenting their recommendations to the FCC today and encouraging the Commission to move to adopt the power increase quickly.
"We are delighted that the radio industry is now poised to push this technology ahead together. We've found practical and balanced solutions that will greatly improve reception while limiting interference to existing analog operations," said Bob Struble, President and CEO of Ibiquity Digital.
The agreement proposes that the Commission authorize a blanket 6dB increase for all commercial and non-commercial radio stations' digital power from the current level of -20dBc to a power level of -14dBc; this is four times the current power level. NPR and Ibiquity consulted with a broad spectrum of commercial and noncommercial stations over the last few weeks, and identified several conditions and criteria to manage the power increase process. These conditions were informed by NPR Labs recent field research, Advanced IBOC Coverage and Compatibility Study, filed with the Commission earlier this week. Conditions of the blanket increase included commitment by Ibiquity and NPR to additional enhancements to the HD Radio system. The development work of the two organizations will focus on single-frequency networks to fill gaps in digital coverage, asymmetrical digital sidebands to reduce the potential for digital interference to short-spaced, first-adjacent analog stations, and low bit-rate codecs and conditional access crucial to moving radio reading services into the mainstream of digital radio broadcasting.
Notably, the two organizations offered an approach to additional power increases beyond a 6dB increase, depending on spacing criteria and conditions that limit harmful interference, and initial models suggest most stations will be able to exceed 6dB.
Mike Starling, executive director of NPR Labs, said, "We are optimistic about the future of HD Radio broadcasting, and eager to continue to work with Ibiquity on the developments that will make this power increase work to everyone's advantage - stations, listeners, and receiver makers."
"I am thrilled that a workable and efficacious compromise has been agreed to on this extremely important and controversial issue," said Milford Smith, vice president of radio engineering at Greater Media. "Replication of analog coverage by the new, digital service is absolutely critical to the continued successful roll out of HD Radio technology." Ibiquity and NPR encouraged the Commission to act on unresolved complaints in cases in which interference is shown to cause a problem.
The agreement also proposes a series of steps drawn from the current AM rules for interference to be applied to qualifying and limiting harmful interference with analog at the 6dB increase level (-14dBc). These steps would remediate harmful interference from any stations increasing power above the existing -20dBc power level.