Digital PowerRadio Seeks a Superior HD Radio System
A new company whose major backers include Beasley Broadcast
and former FCC Chairman Mark Fowler believes it can significantly improve the
HD Radio experience. It aims to make a big splash at the upcoming NAB Show.
PowerRadio, based in Palm Beach, Fla., says its technology will improve HD
Radio performance and coverage through enhancements in baseband receiver chips,
whereas much emphasis in the industry to date has focused on the transmission end
through techniques like power increases and asymmetrical sidebands.
the company says computer models show coverage gains of approximately 5 dB for hybrid
FM signals in mobile handsets and smartphones as well as tabletop receivers in
buildings; and approximately 7 dB of gains into auto receivers. It says it can
achieve similar gains in AM.
It will introduce its work
at two sessions of the NAB Show.
Radio World Editor in
Chief Paul McLane asked Managing Member Mark Fowler for more information:
Mark, what is Digital PowerRadio; who owns it and where is it based?
PowerRadio’s technology improves hybrid HD Radio AM and FM coverage by making
the baseband receiver chip in the radio receiver more sensitive. The effect is
to provide the substantial gains in HD Radio signal strength stated in the
press release. Technically, the signal itself is not made stronger; but because
the chip can pick up weaker signals and decode them, the effect is the same as
improving signal strength.
This is a receiver-side
improvement for hybrid AM and FM; no changes are needed on the transmit side.
DPR is owned by Beasley Broadcast Group Inc. and the Fowler
Radio Group, including Brana Vojcic, the chief inventor.
How does a former chairman of the
FCC get involved in this?
I met the inventor Brana
Vojcic in 2010 on another project. At one point, he mentioned that he believed
he could improve the HD Radio technology with a year or more of work, assisted
by other advanced radio technique Ph.D.s from around the world.
How did the relationship with Beasley Broadcast come about?
I sit on the board of directors of Beasley Broadcast Group Inc. I have
always been impressed with their work ethic and their integrity, starting with
I was aware of the challenges facing
broadcasting in becoming successful in a digital world, and brought the
inventor to a meeting with George and Caroline Beasley. He briefed them on the
outline of the invention; with the input of their CTO Mike Cooney, they decided
to invest and back the work needed.
You make some bold promises about improving HD Radio performance,
including better receiver performance inside buildings, and better user
experience at the digital/analog transition point. Can you quantify these
Our claims are based upon computer
simulations, which in today’s world are seen as superior to in-the-field
measurements, because computer simulation results are generally very accurate,
and you can measure hundreds of different environmental scenarios, which would
be cost-prohibitive if field testing, not to mention months of time.The chip industry evaluates chip technologies
in this way.
You mentioned that if
the industry ever goes all-digital, the improvements would be even better?
Yes. That is correct, but more long-range. Eventually, it should happen.
Tell us about Brana Vojcic.
word: brilliant. He is a world-renowned expert in what are called “advanced
For the industry to benefit from
your ideas, presumably you’ll need buy-in from receiver or chip manufacturers. What’s your assessment of that happening?
had good meetings with several chip manufacturers, looking towards licensing
our technology.The technology also
improves television over-the-air coverage as well as enhance performance of the
signal when received on cable. We have had discussions with at least one major
group television broadcaster. It would also help them with mobile TV.
What do you want
broadcasters or their industry leaders to do?
support and encourage main players to work with us cooperatively for the
benefit of broadcasters and the American consumer.
Fowler also provided a résumé of Brana Vojcic, the main inventor. He is
a professor in the Department of
Electrical and Computer Engineering at The George
Washington University in Washington, and is president of Xplore Wireless, with
extensive technical consulting, research and teaching work, as well as being a
senior member of IEEE and author of various articles and publications.