IBOC Update - Mar 23, 2005

March 23, 2005


  • DRM Forum votes to expand services into VHF
  • Yamaha to Partner With XM on New Receiver Line
  • Sony Taps Radioscape for DAB Modules
  • BE, Harris Ready to Support Secondary Program Services
  • Kenwood Offers SPS-Ready Receivers, Upgrades to NPR Affiliates
  • Ibiquity Adds Three to Business Development, Marketing
  • HD Radio Terminology
  • IBOC Across America
  • Bext, Armstrong to Demo FM Extra at NAB2005

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    DRM Forum votes to expand services into VHF
    Members of the Digital Radio Mondiale consortium voted on March 10 to extend the non-proprietary family of DRM digital broadcast standards into the VHF broadcast bands.

    This landmark decision will increase the range of digital radio transmission options offered worldwide by the DRM consortium and the World DAB Forum, which work together on projects of mutual interest. In combination with one another, the groups aim to provide compatible digital broadcast strategies in national and international markets.

    DRM, a non-proprietary system that has been endorsed by the ITU, IEC and ETSI, currently covers former AM broadcast spectrum in the SW, MW and LW bands. DAB Digital Radio (Eureka 147) is also a non-proprietary system endorsed by the ITU and ETSI, and developed for application in the broadcast bands between 30MHz and 3GHz. DRM and DAB Digital Radio now express confidence that those standards can be extended for use in VHF Band II (87.5MHz–108MHz).

    The two groups first announced their cooperation at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin in 2003. DRM and the World DAB Forum hold regularly scheduled joint meetings on key technical and commercial topics.

    DRM says it expects to begin work on the band extension project immediately. Design, development and testing phases are projected to be complete by 2008-2010.


    Yamaha to Partner With XM on New Receiver Line
    Yamaha Electronics and XM Satellite Radio have announced a new partnership to bring to market XM-ready home entertainment products. Under the new arrangement, Yamaha will manufacture four new receivers and several new home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) systems with XM "Connect-and-Play," a technology that integrates XM into a broad range of home entertainment products. The company says that the XM-ready receivers will be available at retail in early April.

    Yamaha says the new technology will allow consumers to plug an XM Connect-and-Play home antenna into an XM-ready Yamaha AV receiver and activate the service to receive XM's 150-plus digital radio channels with no additional accessories or installation required. The XM Connect-and-Play antenna is said to be capable of receiving XM's satellite and terrestrial signals as well as channel tuning, decoding and audio transmission. It will be the only accessory needed to get XM through an XM- ready audio system.

    Yamaha's line of XM-ready receivers will include two 6.1 channel receivers, the RX-V457 and RX-V557, and two 7.1 channel receivers, the RX-V657 and RX-V757. In addition, Yamaha will release four XM-ready receivers from its HTR-series.

    Sony Taps Radioscape for DAB Modules
    Sony has announced that it has selected Radioscape's RS350A DAB module as a foundation for a forthcoming line of automotive DAB receivers. The RS350A module will provide DAB functionality for integration with existing radio designs.

    The module has several features to facilitate its use in an automotive environment. First, it can simultaneously process three channels of a DAB multiplex to provide any combination of audio channels and data channels of news or travel information, while service linking enables the radio to automatically move to associated stations when the first goes out of range using linking information provided by the broadcaster. The module also provides phantom power up the antenna cable to power an amplifier at the base of the antenna, with the goal of improving the signal-to-noise performance of the system. Finally, the RS350A receives DAB Band III and L-band, making it compatible with most Eureka 147 DAB transmission systems.

    The entry of Sony into the automotive DAB market is a positive endorsement of the excellent growth potential in this market segment," said Anika Nyberg, president of World DAB. “We believe that automotive is one of the next important growth sectors for DAB and are delighted that Radioscape is committed to empowering it."

    BE, Harris Ready to Support Secondary Program Services
    In response to the FCC's recent declaration that it would grant experimental authorization to transmit HD Radio secondary program services (SPS) on a by-request basis, IBOC equipment purveyors BE and Harris claim that their companies stand ready to provide broadcasters with solutions and support for the budding technology.

    The SPS concept has been driven largely through the efforts of NPR through their Tomorrow Radio project. Harris and Kenwood America have been involved as technology partners with that initiative. If approved as expected in the FCC's Report and Order on IBOC digital broadcasting, it is expected that commercial broadcasting groups will adopt multichannel broadcasting to create new business models for their individual stations.

    A key element to providing SPS are importers, which take advantage of IBOC's available bandwidth by multiplexing HD Radio audio and data services into a bitstream at the studio.

    Harris says it expects to be first to market with its exporters beginning in April. The exporter is responsible for multiplexing the main channel audio with feeds from the importer en route to an STL system. The company notes that its Dexstar HD Radio platform currently supports Tomorrow Radio applications with the addition of an importer, and its new Flexstar platform has been designed from the ground up for high-performance multichannel radio applications. The Flexstar platform, featuring the HDI-100 importer and HDE-100 exporter, enables supplementary services such as secondary audio channels and data streams providing news, weather, traffic and other information to the listener's receiver.

    BE, on the other hand, boasts that its new IDI line of HD Radio data importers, projected to ship at the end of April, are capable of encoding multiple Secondary Program Services.

    The function of the data importer is to provision HD Radio bandwidth between the Main Program Service (MPS) and SPS, along with SPS Program Associated Data (PAD). The IDI software encodes SPS audio and multiplexes it with the PAD and other data to be carried on the HD Radio signal. The resulting bitstream is delivered via Ethernet to BE's XPI 10 data exporter, where it is combined with the encoded HD Radio MPS and its data for transport to the HD Radio exciter and transmitter. The IDI 10 provides a fixed, 32kb/s SPS channel with no bitstream provisioning, while the IDI 20 offers a flexible approach to managing the HD Radio system throughput for multiple SPS. On release, the IDI 20 is limited to two secondary program channels, but the company says that future updates will expand the number of SPS channels supported.

    Both companies plan to exhibit their respective systems at NAB2005 next month in Las Vegas.

    Kenwood Offers SPS-Ready Receivers, Upgrades to NPR Affiliates
    National Public Radio informed their affiliates last week that Kenwood of America had offered the network an expedited shipment of KTC-HR100 HD Radio receivers that have been modified for reception of Secondary Program Services (SPS).

    The special offer, limited to a maximum of a dozen units per station, would allow NPR affiliates to field demonstration units about one month before the company begins to distribute the receivers commercially. Kenwood additionally offered to upgrade existing units already in the affiliates hands on a limited, one-time basis. Only NPR member stations were eligible, and the deadline for the order expired on Monday.

    The offer and enthusiastic response with which it was apparently received, illustrate the value that NPR and its affiliates are placing on SPS, a direct outgrowth of the networks Tomorrow Radio project. Kenwood expects to offer the SPS-capable receivers to the rest of the market by May. The price of the new unit has not been revealed, but is expected to remain in line with that of the current version.

    Eye on IBOC

    Ibiquity Adds Three to Business Development, Marketing
    In a bid to move its HD Radio standard into auto dealer showrooms across the country, Ibiquity Digital has appointed Steven Cowherd to the position of senior director of OEM business development, to be based at the company's Pontiac, MI, office.

    With more than 20 years of experience in the automotive industry, Cowherd will be responsible for partnering with automotive manufacturers and their suppliers to develop and deploy HD Radio technology and its telematic applications.

    "Steve's deep knowledge and experience in the automotive arena will be a great asset to Ibiquity Digital as we accelerate the deployment of HD Radio into vehicles," said Jeffery McGannon, Ibiquity's vice president of OEM business development.

    Cowherd, who holds a Masters in Science Management from CMU, most recently held a series of managerial positions at Visteon, where he assisted in that company's efforts to expand business relationships with United States, European and Asian auto manufacturers.

    The company has also announced an expansion of its broadcast marketing department with the hiring of two managers, Renee Jamerson and Roy Sampson. The pair will work directly with radio stations on HD Radio promotion and will report to Don Kelly, Ibiquity's director of broadcast marketing.

    Ibiquity says the new additions are intended to help broadcasters educate and motivate consumers to purchase HD Radio receivers. David Salemi, vice president of marketing for Ibiquity, described the team's role as one to enhance AM and FM's digital rollout, support radio stations and build awareness and enthusiasm for HD Radio broadcasting throughout the country.

    HD Radio Terminology

    Learn the language of IBOC

    IBOC: In-band/on-channel system of digital radio where the digital signals are placed within the current AM and FM bands and within the FCC-assigned channel of a radio station.

    SDARS: Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service, describes satellite-delivered digital audio systems such as those from XM Radio and Sirius. The digital audio data rate in these systems is specified as being 64kbs/s.

    IBOC Across America

    IBOC by state: Wyoming
    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
    KUWA-FM 91.3 News/AAA Afton University of Wyoming No
    KBUW-FM 90.5 News/AAA Buffalo University of Wyoming No
    KUWC-FM 91.3 NPR Casper University of Wyoming No
    KDUW-FM 91.7 NPR Douglas University of Wyoming No
    KUWG-FM 90.9 NPR Gillette University of Wyoming No
    KUWJ-FM 90.3 News/AAA Jackson University of Wyoming No
    KUWR-FM 91.9 News/AAA Laramie University of Wyoming No
    KUWN-FM 90.5 NPR Newcastle University of Wyoming No
    KUWX-FM 90.9 NPR Pinedale University of Wyoming No
    KUWP-FM 90.1 News/AAA Powell University of Wyoming No
    KUWZ-FM 90.5 News/AAA Rock Springs University of Wyoming No
    KSUW-FM 91.3 NPR Sheridan University of Wyoming No
    KUWD-FM 91.5 News/AAA Sundance University of Wyoming No
    KUWT-FM 91.3 News/AAA Thermopolis University of Wyoming No


    Bext, Armstrong to Demo FM Extra at NAB2005
    Digital Radio Express, which announced testing of its FM Extra digital SCA system with Radio Korea in the second half of 2004, says it will demonstrate its product in the exhibit hall booths of Bext International and Armstrong Transmitters during next month's NAB2005.

    According to DRE, its FM Extra system provides an additional independent stream of data to provide more programming or additional data services for IBOC FM broadcasters without sacrificing any bits from the main data channel. For analog FM broadcasters, the company claims the new technology provides sufficient bandwidth to accommodate MP4 digital audio at 96kb/s, thus providing high quality digital broadcast capabilities in addition to the existing analog programming while still using existing analog transmission systems.

    While technical specifications of the system remain sketchy, Silicon Valley-based DRE has previously said it was pursuing on-air testing with an undisclosed FM broadcaster in the United States.

    Additional information can be found at www.dreinc.com.

    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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