Industry HD Uncertainty Flares in Trade Press

For the most part, radio industry trades have not given much substantive thought or analysis to the debacle that is HD Radio. However, some recent developments seem to signal that the winds of sycophancy may be changing.
It’s all happened in the Radio and Business Report. First, the publication let loose an article, whose sources are “some highly accredited/respected Bay Area engineers,” full of complaints and criticisms of HD Radio and its proprietor, iBiquity Digital Corporation. The complaints raised against iBiquity are numerous and significant.
In addition to reporting that one San Francisco-based AM station has turned off its HD sidebands, the article reports dissatisfaction among iBiquity customers, due to the fact that “iBiquity is not providing the promised updates to its software to repair the ‘bugs’ that have developed in the AM codec. The bugs require reboots of the HD encoders, sometimes daily.” Continue reading “Industry HD Uncertainty Flares in Trade Press”

AM-HD Undergoes Radical Redesign

Judging from the demonstrations at the National Association of Broadcaster’s convention, the system seems to deliver as promised and offers enormous potential for FM and AM stations….The systems are just emerging from the R&D stages and still need fine-tuning before real-world implementation is possible….Once a recommendation is made, the Federal Communications Commission then has to decide how to implement technical parameters for a DAB system. So the industry is still a few years away from a wholesale DAB implementation – but not that many. (Radio World Editorial, “A Little DAB’ll Do Ya,” May 17, 1995, p. 5.)
With little fanfare and less than two weeks before the National Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcast Engineering Conference in Las Vegas, iBiquity Digital Corporation (the proprietors of HD Radio) announced a radical redesign of its hybrid analog/digital AM-HD waveform. Continue reading “AM-HD Undergoes Radical Redesign”

iBiquity Licensing: Now 50% Off!

So it has come to this: iBiquity Digital Corporation, the proprietors of HD Radio, have slashed their licensing fees in half.
According to iBiquity’s initial licensing agreement (circa 2005), early-adopters of the HD Radio technology paid a one-time licensing fee of $5,000 to utilize the software to run their transmitters. By 2008, that fee had increased to $25,000. Continue reading “iBiquity Licensing: Now 50% Off!”

Bring The Noise Redux: FCC Okays FM-HD Power Increase

With little fanfare on Friday, the FCC approved a blanket four-fold increase in the power of FM-HD digital sidebands, and also established procedures for stations to apply for a power-hike of up to 10x.
This outcome was no surprise. For the last two years the proprietors of HD Radio, iBiquity Digital Corporation, and National Public Radio have been wrangling over just how much of a digital FM power boost is needed to replicate existing FM stations’ analog coverage. Continue reading “Bring The Noise Redux: FCC Okays FM-HD Power Increase”

iBiquity/NPR HD Power Hike In Play

As predicted, the two major players in the HD Radio space – iBiquity, the proprietor of the technology, and NPR, its primary broadcast innovator – have jointly petitioned the FCC to increase the power level of HD Radio sidebands. They’re asking for a blanket 4x increase to the power of digital sidebands for both AM and FM stations, and includes proposed methodology for allowing selected stations to increase their digital power levels by 10x. The joint filing even includes helpful language the FCC is encouraged to adopt in full as as regulation. The National Association of Broadcasters was not far behind in lauding the deal.
Given that this will obviously involve a modification of the “spectral mask” under which a stations’ power must exceed, this request skewers once and for all the notion that HD radio “does not use new spectrum.” Continue reading “iBiquity/NPR HD Power Hike In Play”

Pubcasters to be Determinant Factor in FM-HD Power Inrease

I smell history repeating itself.
Not 10 years ago, National Public Radio acted as an important ally – and a foil – for a concerted attempt by commercial broadcasters to quash LPFM stations before birth. A lot’s changed since then (for example, NPR only halfheartedly opposes LPFM expansion now), but there’s still a ways to go before that service reaches its full potential.
The historical lesson learned is: if it weren’t for NPR’s anti-LPFM stance at the time, which provided the anti-LPFM campaign with a semblance of technical “impartiality” and brought important “liberal” cachet to the legislative fight, LPFM would be an even stronger service today. Continue reading “Pubcasters to be Determinant Factor in FM-HD Power Inrease”

Robert Struble Channels Lee DeForest (and Other HD Follies)

I never thought I’d consider Twitter a tool for journalistic use, but it looks like I’ve been proven wrong.
iBiquity’s President and CEO, Robert Struble, has taken to tweeting. In early September, he revealed he’d taken the train to Wall Street to float the notion of taking iBiquity public: “Good NYC trip. Wall St way more upbeat than recently. IPO pipeline better, but most think [stock market] rally was too fast.”
Other than a mention-in-passing in the Washington Post more than four years ago (which coincidentally predicted iBiquity would need an IPO by 2009 to keep HD Radio viable), and less than a handful of dismissive side-comments on a couple of inside-baseball-type blogs, the notion of this process going forward (or, perhaps more importantly, gaining traction) is not being closely followed. Continue reading “Robert Struble Channels Lee DeForest (and Other HD Follies)”

Stations Experiment With Beefed-Up HD

It’s already been well-established that the digital radio sidebands of HD Radio signals have the potential (in both the AM and FM environments) to cause significant interference, both to neighboring stations and, in some cases, to the analog host-signal of an HD-enabled station. The issue is so significant that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio have embarked on not one, but two studies to examine the problem. The first report was pretty damning. Continue reading “Stations Experiment With Beefed-Up HD”