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An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio
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Multicasting Presents Issues as well as Opportunities
The rapid evolution of multicasting from an NPR proof-of-concept project to HD Radio's killer app has created a unique set of issues for broadcasters racing to adopt the technology, just as it has for receiver manufacturers struggling to get fully compatible radios on retail shelves.
One question currently under debate is how to handle channel labeling for consumers. With FM HD Radio's ability to parse its 96kb/s digital audio throughput into multiple audio streams, the need for a standardized labeling scheme for primary and supplemental audio services (SAS) has been recognized and is under evaluation by the Supplemental Audio Service ID Task Group (SIDTG), a subcommittee formed to specifically address the issue by the NRSC earlier this year.
According to an Aug. 15 report in the NAB's Radio Tech Check newsletter, two major approaches to channel identification are under consideration. The first involves using traditional call letters with a numeric or alphanumeric extensions. For example, WXYZ's analog program channel would continue to display simply as WXYZ, while digital channels would be displayed as WXYZ HD-1, HD-2, etc. or simply WXYZ 1, 2, etc.
The second approach would use the FCC's longstanding FM broadcast numeric channel designation, as provided in title 47 CFR, part 73 – but with an additional single digit extension designating the digital channel number. For example 99.5MHz (channel 258), would display the primary digital channel as 258.1, while supplemental channels would display as 258.2. Such a scheme, while a departure from historical convention, would bring digital radio more into line with satellite and TV channel numbering.
The task group is also trying to determine the most desirable hierarchy for receiver scanning among analog and digital channels, a process complicated by the need for buffering of digital signals and the acquisition delays that result.
The working group hopes to have a set of recommendations ready for the NRSC at the NAB's fall radio show in September.
Delphi, Worldspace Ink Indian Receiver Pact
Automotive systems and component giant Delphi has announced an agreement with Worldspace, the global satellite radio broadcaster, to produce mobile satellite radio receivers for the Indian market.
The companies will launch and market Delphi-Worldspace Mobile Satellite Audio receivers in India, and subsequently plan to expand the product's availability into China, an Asianet release in New Delhi.
The product is expected to be available in the Indian market in the first half of 2006.
The agreement calls for Delphi to provide hardware that will deliver uninterrupted access to the Worldspace satellite radio network, with a choice of more than 35 channels.
Digital satellite programming offered by Worldspace includes a combination of news, sports, music, brand name content and education programming developed by Worldspace or provided through sources such as BBC and CNN International
Radioscape to Debut DRM/DAB Receiver at IAF
Radioscape, a manufacturer of software-defined digital receivers, will be participating in the debut of multi-standard digital radios based on its recently launched Radioscape RS500 module at IFA 2005, to be held in Berlin, Germany, this Sept. 2 - 7. IFA claims to be the world's largest consumer electronic trade show, with over 273,800 visitors attending in 2003.
Radioscape is working with several manufacturers that will unveil new multi-standard digital radios at the show. The new breed of receivers are said to be capable of receiving digital broadcasts using the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) format as well as Eureka 147 DAB, FM with RDS, LW, MW and SW.
"IFA is one of the most important consumer electronics events and is the perfect showcase for the first, consumer-priced DRM/DAB radios," said Dave Hawkins, VP of Radioscape's Receivers Business. "This will really help DRM take off with the general public. Our unique software architecture has enabled us to create cost-effective, multi-standard, multi-application modules by using software stacks running on a powerful Texas Instruments DSP engine."
Hawkins went on to predict that the pending availability of the new multi-standard receivers will occur in plenty of time for the 2005 Christmas buying season, giving a huge boost to the growth of DRM and DAB broadcast technology.
Freeplay to Crank up DAB in UK
Listening to DAB in Great Britain is about to get a little tougher - on one's arm at least. That's because the world's first wind-up FM and DAB digital radio, the Freeplay Devo, will be going on sale there soon.
Building on the popularity on the flexible energy options of the Freeplay power platform – ac line, battery or a rotary crank. The receiver also mixes old and new with a rotary analog FM tuning dial, and blue LCD screen displaying five DAB station presets.
The Devo also includes a set of RCA line output jacks and a headphone jack for personal monitoring. A built in storage battery can be charged from a wall outlet or a handcrank generator, the former being the preferred choice among the sedentary set.
The manufacturer expects to ship units in October with a retail price of $180 US.
BMW First to Offer OEM HD Radio Receivers
If you're planning on buying a new car, you'll be able order it factory-equipped with an HD Radio digital audio system – providing it's a 2006 BMW seven series model. According to a recent article in the Automotive News, BMW of North America will offer the new digital radios as a factory option in its seven series vehicles set to roll off the line this fall. The announcement marks the automaker as the first to offer HD Radio in its product. BMW has not yet released the sticker price on the option.
Ibiquity Digital CEO Bob Struble said HD Radio technology has received an especially warm reception from import-brand automakers, and predicted that factory-installed radio will be available on eight brands and 30 models within a few years.
Although Struble won't identify specific manufacturers, he says that European and Asian companies are leading the charge.
Radiosophy Seeks Broadcaster Partners, Names Veteran CTO
August has been a busy month at Radiosophy. The manufacturer of Multistream HD radio receivers had no sooner launched its Broadcast Partner Program, designed to help radio stations promote HD Radio by getting receivers into the hands of listeners, than it announced the appointment of consumer electronics veteran Bruce Young as its new chief technology officer.
Radiosophy says that participating Broadcast Partners will receive 37 percent on each Multistream HD Radio sold through a referral by that partner. Of that, 15 percent comes in the form of a referral commission while the remaining 22 percent will be placed into a partner-specific Market Development Fund. Partners will also receive discounted pricing on promotional units.
The addition of Young is expected to help the company make the most of its new partnership with broadcasters. The former DOE of Gateway consumer products is described as "a skilled technologist with a deep understanding of PC architecture, consumer electronics, high speed I/O and video/graphics." Young also served as CTO for Digital 5, a creator of networking software for digital consumer products.
Information regarding the company's broadcaster programs is available at www.radiosophy.com.
Eye on IBOC
Push toward Digital Rekindling Interest In Radio
Only a few years ago, there were serious questions as to whether the NAB would continue holding a radio-only convention in the fall. Vendor interest was lackluster, radio stock prices were falling, and many in the industry had trouble getting upper management to approve travel expenses.
Fast forward to the waning summer of 2005. Advance registrations for the September radio show in Philadelphia are up and booth space on the exhibition floor is sold out. However, radio stocks prices aren't soaring, and revenues have been flat. So what's different?
Simply put, the advance of IBOC digital radio has breathed life back into an industry that had become stagnant. Consider the following: