IBOC Update - Aug 04, 2004

August 4, 2004

Stay up to date on the latest IBOC news, business and technology information with the twice-monthly newsletter from Radio magazine.


  • London Cell Phones to get DAB
  • WAMU-FM Tests SAC
  • NPR Evaluating Low-Bit Audio Codecs for IBOC
  • Move Over IBOC: AOL, Nokia Licensing Advanced Audio Codecs
  • IBOC by State: Illinois
  • NRSC Files Upbeat IBOC Evaluation Report with FCC
  • Clear Channel's Goal: 1,000 IBOC Conversions in Three Years
  • Entercom Accelerates IBOC Rollout
  • KUVO Denver Commences IBOC
  • Seven Detroit Stations Convert to IBOC in July
  • WICR-FM Launches IBOC
  • An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio
  • Denon and Marantz Licensed to Produce HD Radio Products

    To receive these articles twice a month in your e-mail, subscribe to the IBOC Update - Insight on HD Radio e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe.


    London Cell Phones to get DAB
    London-based Radioscape, a Eureka-147 chip manufacturer, believes that cell phones in Europe could have DAB reception capability within the next 12 months. A Radioscape spokesman stated that the price for DAB functions was not necessarily an issue for consumers of cell phones because the phones themselves are already subsidized. Radioscape expects that the DAB chipsets will be small enough and capable enough in 12 months.

    Many European mobile phones already have analog FM radio functions. The British communications regulatory body, Ofcom, has plans to terminate analog broadcasts. Analog radio transmissions may end with analog TV transmissions. Currently, the TV transition is expected to commence in 2007 and complete in 2012.


    WAMU-FM Tests SAC
    Washington - Aug 1, 2004 - The NAB Tech Check reports that Public radio station WAMU-FM at American University is conducting an on-going experiment of the Supplemental Audio Channel (SAC) capability of Ibiquity's HD Radio FM IBOC system. The experiment is a supplement to the Tomorrow Radio project conducted by NPR, Harris and Kenwood earlier this year. Details of the Tomorrow Radio project were reported ion the March 2004 issue of Radio magazine. (Read the article online at this link.

    WAMU's first SAC was made on June 8, 2004. A ceremony was held at WAMU to commemorate the event, and included speeches from from WAMU Executive Director David Taylor, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, and Ibiquity President Robert Struble. WAMU has a six-month experimental authorization from the FCC to operate the SAC. The authorization expires on Nov. 5, 2004. At that time, WAMU will report on the method and results of the test to the FCC.

    Additional information about WAMU's digital radio operation in online at www.wamu.org/digital/faqs.php.

    NPR Evaluating Low-Bit Audio Codecs for IBOC
    National Public Radio (NPR), in conjunction with Tomorrow Radio technology partners Harris and Kenwood America, has announced plans to conduct subjective listening tests of audio codecs utilizing a wide variety of audio bit rates in an effort to determine which versions will have the greatest utility for IBOC digital multicasting using supplementary audio channels (SAC). NPR will also investigate the feasibility of tapping the potential of ultra low-low bit rate digital audio carried via the "extended hybrid" mode of FM HD Radio. Extended hybrid operation adds additional data capacity to the FM IBOC digital signal of up to four extended hybrid partitions, each providing approximately 12.5kb/s of streaming data.

    The tests were prompted by previous successful demonstrations of FM HD Radio transmissions utilizing a primary audio program channel at 64kb/s in tandem with a 32kb/s secondary audio channel, and are at the heart of NPR's initiative to make multicasting available for public radio broadcasters facing increased demand for diverse programming. Industry observers generally agree that the FCC will officially sanction this type of operation in its pending rulemaking concerning IBOC DAB.

    In addition to the potential offering of more than one program channel, many public broadcasters currently offer low-fidelity specialized programming, such as Radio Reading Services (RRS) for the visually impaired, which may not be practicable when transmitting hybrid or extended hybrid IBOC DAB. NPR's research could determine the feasibility of using one or more hybrid data partitions to transmit RRS programming. The project will also examine such a systems ease of integration and ability to be remotely upgraded in consumer receivers.

    In all, NPR will conduct subjective listening test of advanced audio codecs operating at 16-, 24-, 36-, 48-, 56-, 72-, and 80kb/s. The organization hopes to have the entire project completed by the end of the current year.


    Move Over IBOC: AOL, Nokia Licensing Advanced Audio Codecs
    In a move that's sure to give some broadcasters heartburn, online behemoth America Online has joined in a licensing arrangement with Coding Technologies, a provider of audio compression software, to incorporate the Coding Technologies AACPlus v2 audio codec into the AOL media delivery platform and the NSV file format. The new coding scheme promises to allow AOL to deliver high-quality audio and audio-visual services at low bit rates to its subscribers.

    This announcement comes on the heels of an announcement that cell phone maker Nokia has also struck an agreement with Coding Technologies to license AACPlus in its latest generation of cellular handsets, opening the potential for high-quality streaming audio content delivery by that medium.

    Also adding to the potential for broadband online and mobile streaming audio to compete with traditional broadcast delivery was an announcement last week that DTS demonstrated the viability of streaming high definition surround sound audio over the Internet in a recent trial with Swedish Radio (SR). Audio mixed live in 5.1-channel surround sound from an outside broadcast was encoded at 24-bit, 96kHz using DTS' Coherent Acoustics codec, and streamed onto the Sprint Network via IP at 1.5Mb/s -- equivalent to full DVD-V and DVB bit rate.

    The event marked the first time that DTS Digital Surround has been streamed over an IP network. The success of the test proves the viability of very high quality audio multicasting over broadband, and points to the evolving potential for IP delivery of digital programming by broadcasters, particularly in Europe where services offering up to 8Mb/s connections are now coming online.

    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by State: Illinois
    Ibiquity has a list of stations that have licensed HD Radio technology and notes those that are on the air now. IBOC by State will look at various states and list the stations that are making the transition.

    Station Format Market Owner On Air
    WUSI-FM 90.3 News/Talk/Info Carbondale Southern Illinois University No
    WBEZ-FM 91.5 News/Talk/Info Chicago Chicago Public Radio Yes
    WDCB-FM 90.9 Variety Chicago College Of Du Page No
    WDRV-FM 97.1 Rock Chicago Bonneville International Yes
    WIND-AM 560 Spanish AC Chicago Univision Radio Yes
    WNUA-FM 95.5 Smooth Jazz Chicago Clear Channel Yes
    WOJO-FM 105.1 Mexican/Tropical Chicago Univision Radio Yes
    WPWX-FM 92.3 Urban Chicago Crawford Broadcasting Yes
    WSRB-FM 106.3 Urban AC Chicago Crawford Broadcasting Yes
    WTMX-FM 101.9 AC Chicago Bonneville International Yes
    WUSN-FM 99.5 Country Chicago Infinity Broadcasting Yes
    WVAZ-FM 102.7 Urban AC Chicago Clear Channel Yes
    WYRB-FM 106.3 Urban AC Chicago Crawford Broadcasting Yes
    WIUM-FM 91.3 News/Classical Macomb Western Illinois University No
    WIUW-FM 89.5 News/Talk Macomb Western Illinois University No
    WSIU-FM 91.9 News/Talk Marion-Carbondale Southern Illinois University No
    WVSI-FM 88.9 News/Talk Mt. Vernon Southern Illinois University No
    WCIC-FM 91.5 AC/Christian Peoria Illinois Bible Institute No

    FCC Update

    NRSC Files Upbeat IBOC Evaluation Report with FCC
    The National Standards Radio Committee (NRSC) fulfilled a previous commitment to reevaluate Ibiquity's AM/FM IBOC transmission system by filing a favorable report concerning its findings with the Federal Communications Commission on July 23. Concluding that the current iteration of Ibiquity's IBOC system standards meets or exceeds the audio quality of the best analog FM stereo broadcasts, the report paves the way for the NRSC to complete its task of finalizing standards specifications to be considered by the FCC in a pending rulemaking on digital radio.

    This most recent evaluation by the DAB subcommittee's Evaluation Working Group (EWG) was necessitated by Ibiquity's upgrade of its system's audio codec to what is known as Generation 3 technology, after a previous evaluation found that low bit-rate performance of a previous codec (PAC) fell short of meeting all subjective listening criteria. With the exception of the codec upgrade, Ibiquity's IBOC digital transmission specifications were functionally unchanged from the previous round (phase 2) of testing, using the system now referred to as Gen 1.

    In its comments, the EWG noted that Ibiquity's hybrid IBOC DAB utilizing Gen 3 technology "meets the NRSC's goals and objectives for the introduction and use of digital radio in the AM and FM bands…by providing a digital signal with significantly improved audio quality over (existing) analog AM and FM systems."

    Of particular interest to FM broadcasters is a finding regarding subjective listening tests. In the report, test evaluators rated the perceived difference in quality between FM HD Radio codecs running at 64kb/s and 96kb/s as being nearly imperceptible. This information is of paramount significance for station operators now pondering the possibility of splitting their audio data stream in order to transmit a secondary audio channel (SAC). Recent demonstrations of this technology have split the single 96kb/s program stream into a 64kb/s primary and 32kb/s secondary stream -- hence, the negligible perception of degradation at 64kb/s in the tests is likely to encourage many FM broadcasters to pursue the use of SACs.

    Evaluation of IBOC digital radio systems by the NRSC has been ongoing for over a decade, involving competing systems and multiple development interests over the intervening years. In fact, Ibiquity Digital Corporation is the offspring of a 1998 merger between two former IBOC competitors, USA Digital Radio and Lucent digital radio.

    Work by the NRSC EWG and its report to the FCC are co-sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). This latest report essentially completes the current evaluation process.

    Eye on IBOC

    Clear Channel's Goal: 1,000 IBOC Conversions in Three Years
    In a bid to boost its competitive advantage, Clear Channel Radio has announced the launch of an Advanced Technology Initiative, designed to identify, develop and deploy technologies and products that advance the quality of American radio. In its first move, the company named Kevin Lockhart to the newly created position of senior vice president of technology development and announced it will accelerate the rollout of digital radio.

    In explaining his company's move, John Hogan, Clear Channel Radio's chief executive officer described Lockhart as being "Instrumental in advancing radio technology for many years." Hogan went on to say, "We're committed to leading the industry in this important area and [Lockhart] is an ideal person to lead our effort to exploit new technology developments."

    As a mark of their technological commitment, Clear Channel says it will immediately begin an aggressive rollout of digital transmission equipment to 1,000 of the company's stations - comprising 95 percent of its top 100 markets within three years.

    "Digital radio is a transforming application and Clear Channel Radio is committed to passing on its benefits to our listeners," said Lockhart. "The ability to deliver radically improved services, is a powerful advantage for the radio industry and an important advance for listeners."

    The move marks a departure from Clear Channel's "slow growth" approach to IBOC technology, as only a handful of the company's 1,200 or so stations are currently IBOC equipped. The initiative promises to be a financial windfall for HD Radio developer Ibquity, who finalized a corporate-wide licensing agreement with the radio giant for an undisclosed sum. The deal is also expected to bolster sales of transmission and monitoring equipment with an average per-station conversion budget estimated at roughly $100,000 -- a total of $100 million in conversion outlays over the three-year period.

    Entercom Accelerates IBOC Rollout
    Bala Cynwyd, PA - Aug 3, 2004 - Entercom has announced plans to accelerate the rollout of digital broadcasting on nearly all of its radio stations. Entercom has already commenced HD Radio broadcasts in Boston and Seattle. Service launches are expected in Denver and Portland in the next few months. Entercom's digital radio plans include upgrading 80 percent of its stations over the next four years.

    Entercom is the nation's fourth largest radio broadcaster, operating stations in Boston, Seattle, Denver, Portland, Sacramento, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Norfolk, VA, Buffalo, NY, Memphis, TN, Providence, RI, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Rochester, NY, Madison, WI, Wichita, KS, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, OH, Gainesville/Ocala, FL, and Longview/Kelso, WA.

    KUVO Denver Commences IBOC
    Denver - Aug 1, 2004 - Mike Pappas, chief engineer of KUVO-FM, Denver, reports that his station has begun its IBOC operations, making it the first IBOC FM station in Colorado. The HD Radio rollout coincides with the station's 19th anniversary in August.

    The station is beta testing the Nautel V-10 hybrid HD Radio transmitter with its M-50 adaptive pre-distortion exciter. Pappas reports that the spectrum analyzer shows that the transmitter meets the FCC occupied bandwidth mask in HD Radio mode with margin to spare.

    Pappas told the Pubtech e-mail list, "The Nautel adaptive pre-distortion system is fascinating. When you turn on the HD Radio signal you can see on a spectrum analyzer the reduction of distortion components by more than 30dB in a short period of time. This is a difference that was clearly audible listening to the amount of noise in the analog FM signal."

    The station's TPO is 6.2kW, which results in a fair amount of hybrid power. Pappas noted that the Nautel is easily making power and has been 100 percent stable.

    KUVO is currently planning a live broadcast of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra with Dianne Reeves in 5.1 surround using the Neural Audio 5225 system in IBOC at the of September. Look for details of this broadcast in an upcoming issue of Radio magazine.

    Seven Detroit Stations Convert to IBOC in July
    Detroit - Broadcast Electronics reports that it shipped HD Radio equipped transmitter systems to seven Detroit stations for installation during July 2004. Clear Channel (WJLB-FM, WKQI-FM, WMXD-FM), Crawford Broadcasting (WMUZ-FM) and Infinity Broadcasting (WOMC-FM, WVMV-FM) bought BE FXi digital FM exciters, FSi10 HD Radio signal generators and HD Radio FMi transmitters for their respective Detroit stations. Infinity also purchased a BE ASi10 HD Radio signal generator for WXYT-AM, to be used in front of an existing 50kW AM transmitter. The FMi transmitters range in power from 280W to 7kW.

    Five of the seven conversion packages were shipped by Broadcast Electronics within 10 days after order. Detroit stations previously equipped with BE IBOC systems include Clear Channel's WDTW-FM, Eastern Michigan University's WEMU-FM and Greater Media's WMGC-FM. Two other Greater Media stations in greater Detroit, WRIF-FM and WCSX-FM, have BE IBOC systems on order pending changes to a transmission site.

    Scott Stull, executive director of broadcast business development for Ibiquity Digital, noted that achieving a high level of IBOC DAB penetration in the Detroit area has a strategic importance. As headquarters for the big three automakers and a multitude of automotive consulting and marketing firms, Stull sees a strong presence for HD Radio a key element in raising the industry's affinity for the technology.

    WICR-FM Launches IBOC
    Indianapolis - Aug 4, 2004 - Two ham radio operators from Plainfield, IN, who own an IBOC radio flipped the switch to launch WICR-FM (88.7) into the digital age, making it the first public radio station in Indiana to broadcast in IBOC.

    The classical and jazz station is owned by the University of Indianapolis. With the new data capabilities, broadcast students at the university will soon learn the latest technology for delivering news and information to listeners.

    Converting the station to digital before consumer radios are widely available was a bold move, admits WICR General Manager Scott Uecker. "HD Radio technology is here; however, until stations broadcast in IBOC and listeners demand radios that can receive those signals, the manufacturers have little incentive to produce them. Our music format is perfect for HD Radio and we think our listeners are ready for the leap in audio quality that this technology provides."

    The decision to go digital this year was made easier by the station's need for a new transmitter. The station's analog transmitter was more then 20 years old. Uecker noted that installing an IBOC-capable transmitter cost only 20 percent more than an analog-only unit. The station covered the expense largely through listener donations and underwriting.

    HD Radio Terminology

    An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio

    codec: Traditionally, any device employing hardware and/or software to convert analog audio to a digital data stream and vice versa. Sometimes used interchangeably in referring to the audio compression or audio bit rate reduction process of representing an audio signal with lower data throughput, while still preserving audio quality. The coding schemes are based on the perceptual characteristics of the human ear. PAC, AAC, MPEG-2, and AC-3 are just a few examples of these coding schemes.

    RRS: (Radio Reading Services) an auditory reading service for the visually or physically impaired, traditionally offered in many US broadcast markets via the use of analog SCA transmissions carried by some FM broadcasters. Research is currently underway to utilize FM IBOC DAB data capacity to carry these programs via low-bit rate audio codecs.


    Denon and Marantz Licensed to Produce HD Radio Products
    D&M Holdings, parent company of Denon, Marantz Japan, McIntosh Laboratory and Digital Networks North America, has entered into a licensing agreement to allow AM and FM HD Radio technology integration into Denon and Marantz premium home audio product lines.

    Both Denon and Marantz are major labels in the at-home consumer and semi-pro audio markets. The move signals a shift to diversify HD Radio consumer offerings, as opposed to the marketplace's early focus on compatibly equipped car audio products.

    The announcement brings the number of consumer electronics manufacturers licensed by Ibiquity to 15, as the new entries join Alpine, Clarion, Delphi, Fujitsu Ten, Harman Kardon, JVC, Hyundai AutoNet, Kenwood, Mitsubishi, Onkyo, Oritron (Orient Power), Panasonic, Sanyo, Visteon and Yamaha in competing for a piece of the accelerating HD Radio consumer market.

    To receive these articles twice a month in your e-mail, subscribe to the IBOC Update - Insight on HD Radio e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

  • Receive regular news and technology updates. Sign up for our free newsletter here.