IBOC Update - Jun 8, 2005

June 8, 2005

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


  • NRSC Delivers IBOC Standards Document to the FCC
  • Canadian Broadcaster/Futurist sees challenge from Wi-fi
  • Securities Analyst Cautiously Optimistic on IBOC's Future
  • Harman/Becker Joins DRM Consortium
  • Entercom Taps Harris for IBOC conversions
  • Swedes to Air DRM During Stockholm Conference
  • An Introduction to the New Language Surrounding HD Radio
  • IBOC by State: Nevada
  • Radioscape Offers a DRM/DAB Receiver Module

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    NRSC Delivers IBOC Standards Document to the FCC
    The NAB and CEA, co-sponsors of the National Radio Standards Committee (NRSC), filed the NRSC-5 standard with the FCC on May 18, marking the end of a lengthy and painstaking effort by the Committee to provide industry and government with a clear set of voluntary guidelines for the implementation of Ibiquity Digital's HD Radio technology. The filing clears the way for the FCC to assemble its long-awaited Final Report and Order on digital radio broadcasting in the United States.

    The NRSC drafted the NRSC-5 standard with the intent of providing the Commission with a reliable template for the pending rulemaking.

    Following the release of the FCC's First Report and Order (Docket 99-325) on Oct. 10, 2002, radio licensees were granted interim authority by the FCC to operate with this technology. As a result, several stations in major and medium markets now broadcast IBOC signals, with an even larger number currently preparing to do so. On the consumer side, three major electronic manufacturers already have HD Radio products on the shelf with a number of other vendors now in or preparing for production.

    Although the NRSC-5 specifications are thorough and detailed, they are not omniscient. For example, Ibiquity's system audio source coding and data compression are accomplished using Ibiquity's HDC codec, with the company committing to license all patents necessary to implement NRSC-5, with or without HDC. Even so, the Committee deliberately omitted any codec specifications from the standard, because legal restrictions prevent Ibiquity from divulging the actual specifications of HDC.

    Because the FCC had already authorized stations to broadcast with Ibiquity's system and its inherent HD Radio codec on an interim basis, the NRSC concluded that it was unnecessary to address the codec within the standard. However, the NRSC expects that to ensure full compatibility, broadcast equipment manufacturers and receiver manufacturers will routinely incorporate the Ibiquity codec in their products.

    Information about NRSC-5 is available on the NRSC website at www.nrscstandards.org

    Canadian Broadcaster/Futurist sees challenge from Wi-fi
    Todd Maffin, a Canadian broadcaster, podcaster and business technology futurist is gazing in his crystal ball. What he sees "ain't pretty" according to one Web pundit.

    In recent post to a technology forum, Maffin pointed to Canada's major cellular providers who have just joined forces to create a single Wi-fi network across the country. Plans include adding more than 500 new hotspot locations.

    "Once 802.16 gets implemented, this Wi-fi network will be uniquely positioned to compete directly with radio's terrestrial signal," said Maffin. "This is because 802.16 can hand off between hot-spots. So if you have a subscription package on this new network, you can easily start listening to Internet streaming radio pretty much wherever you are."

    Such musings are not lost on industry observers south of the border where new broadband infrastructures such as Wi-max and UWB are already in the works.


    Harman/Becker Joins DRM Consortium
    Harman/Becker Automotive Systems, the automotive division of consumer and professional audio conglomerate Harman International Industries, is signing on with the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) consortium, a move which industry observers describe as sign that DRM is beginning to focus on production and delivery of compatible automotive receivers to European consumers.

    A recent decision by DRM to extend system specifications into the broadcasting bands up to 120MHz has piqued the interest of consumer electronics producers who see DRM's potential as a non-proprietary application path for the digital transition of traditional AM and FM broadcast services. DRM hopes to build momentum in this direction by showcasing its latest consumer products at IFA 2005, in Berlin from Sept. 2 to 7.

    "We strongly believe [that] DRM will revitalize the LW/MW and SW frequency bands combined with significantly better audio quality," said Dr. Peter Geiselhart, CTO Harman/Becker Automotive Systems. "DRM's extension into the broadcasting bands up to 120MHz will be the first digital modulation scheme that can fully replace analog FM channels with compatible bandwidth."

    Harman/Becker provides products for the automotive industry and the aftermarket. Harman International Industries divisions include Becker, Harman/Kardon, JBL, Infinity, Mark Levinson and Lexicon.

    Entercom Taps Harris for IBOC conversions
    Entercom Communications has selected Harris as its vendor for the conversion of its Sacramento and New Orleans FM stations to HD Radio. All nine stations (KSEG-FM, KDND-FM, KRXQ-FM, KWOD-FM and KSSJ-FM in Sacramento; WEZB-FM, WLMG-FM, WTKL-FM and WKBU-FM in New Orleans) are scheduled to go on-air over the summer.

    Swedes to Air DRM During Stockholm Conference
    DRM-member Swedish Radio (SR) International/Radio Sweden will showcase its use of the DRM on-air during the week of June 13 as it joins Swedish Radio in hosting the quarterly board meetings of the Digital Radio Mondiale consortium. Radio Sweden initiated DRM test transmissions into Europe from its transmitter in Hörby, Sweden earlier this spring. Radio Sweden's DRM programs in English and German are also rebroadcast via Radio Netherlands and Radio Canada International (RCI) into Europe and North America.

    The press conference will feature Gundula Adolfsson, head of Radio Sweden, and DRM Chairman Peter Senger (COO, Deutsche Welle) and is scheduled to air at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 13 .

    Swedish Radio is Sweden's public broadcaster. Its multicultural branch called SR International provides programs in several languages to immigrant communities within Sweden, as well as overseas audiences. The overseas service is called Radio Sweden.

    Eye on IBOC

    Securities Analyst Cautiously Optimistic on IBOC's Future
    The future of terrestrial broadcasting in the United States may be positive, but only if managers and ownership groups use their new-found programming and data capacity wisely, according to former Wachovia Capital Markets' Analyst James Boyle.

    "The worst thing that could happen with HD Radio is if it is used by the groups to attack one another in existing formats instead of its intended purpose, which is diversity of programming and revenue streams," said Boyle in a recent interview with Radio Ink. "We cringe just thinking about the potential error of thousands of AC formatted signals with 13 spots per hour. This is not the intended plan, but internecine warfare is radio's long-time, bad habit. HD Radio suggests bright, growth prospects in 2006 and beyond, if the groups don't muck it up by internally fighting. Indeed, it is radio's chance but it can be lost."

    Boyle also noted that while "many investors and observers have left analog, terrestrial radio for dead...the sector might have life left in it. One major catalyst could be the noteworthy progress radio has made in the transition to digital. Over 320 stations are now broadcasting digital, or HD Radio, and over 730 have been licensed. Almost 250 groups have committed over 2,500 stations. Most top 10 groups have committed to accelerated conversion for 2005 to 2007."

    The driving force behind the current rush of radio groups, according to Boyle, is the belief that those who establish their digital infrastructure and capitalize on IBOC's relative advantages early on are most likely to reap the long-term benefits.

    Furthermore, if the accelerated rollout of HD Radio continues on schedule, Boyle believes that the HD Radio user numbers could equal satellite subscriptions in 2011/2012. Wachovia currently predicts that the total number of U.S. satellite radio subscribers will top 39 million in 2010.

    HD Radio Terminology

    An introduction into the language surrounding IBOC

    QOS: Quality of service. Sometimes abbreviated QoS.

    SIS: System Information Service

    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by state: Nevada

    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
    KCNV-FM 89.7 News Las Vegas, NV Nevada Public Radio Corp. Yes
    KJUL-FM 104.3 Nostalgia Las Vegas, NV Beasley Broadcast Group No
    KKLZ-FM 96.3 Clsc Rock Las Vegas, NV Beasley Broadcast Group No
    KSTJ-FM 102.7 80s Hits Las Vegas, NV Beasley Broadcast Group Yes
    KXNT-AM 840 News/Talk Las Vegas, NV Infinity Broadcasting Yes


    Radioscape Offers a DRM/DAB Receiver Module
    Radioscape has launched a new module capable of receiving Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB), FM with RDS, LW, MW and SW in one package. The software-defined radio manufacturer claims its RS500 module, based on its RadiOS architecture, will provide a platform for integrated, multi-standard digital radio receivers. The RS500 is also capable of re-using existing applications and features developed for their Radio RS300L DAB/FM module. Features of the new module include pause, rewind and record to memory cards as well as the ability to display and use Electronic Program Guide (EPG) data.

    The RS500 is based on the Texas Instruments TMS320DRM350 digital signal processor-based (DSP) baseband, an integrated digital baseband that supports DRM and DAB standards. The RadiOS architecture will extend the DSP's basic capabilities; managing uploading of the appropriate software stack and applications to change functionality while masking transitions between different broadcast standards by automatically listing all services alphabetically regardless of transmission type. This allows users to select by content without the need for manual band switching.

    Radioscape says it will ship samples in August, and expects to begin volume production shortly thereafter. The company says that multi-standard, multi-band receivers based on the RS500 could have end user prices below $250

    "World DAB and DRM have been cooperating for sometime," said Annika Nyberg, president of World DAB. "There are synergies between the DAB and DRM business models. These synergies will provide an added boost in many countries as multi-standard digital radios bought for DRM will also receive DAB, providing broadcasters with large potential audiences."

    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.

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