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Digital Radio Update – May 21, 2008

Digital Radio Update – May 21, 2008

May 21, 2008 4:07 PM, By Mark Krieger


  • Ibiquity’s China Conference Draws a Crowd
  • World Space Financial Woes Could Impact European Service Launch
  • New Design Partners Sign on for HD Radio Software Development
  • Clear Channel Cuts Deal to Boost Streaming Presence
  • IBOC by State: Missouri
  • Oh My, It’s Olinda!
  • Mexico Authorizes HD Radio Within 320km of U.S. Border
  • The New Language of Digital Radio
  • Ibiquity Delivers In-Store HD Radio Demo Solution


Ibiquity’s China Conference Draws a Crowd
Ibiquity Digital’s quest for solutions to the consumer side of the HD radio equation are apparently finding fertile ground in China. According to a company press release, more than 300 consumer electronics executives attended the company’s HD Radio Business Conference and Technology Training Session in Shenzhen, held just two days prior to the burgeoning Hong Kong Electronics Fair last month.

Ibiquity officials say the meeting included three concurrent training sessions and a 20-vendor HD Radio Exhibition. Among those reaching out to attendees were chip, module and test instrumentation suppliers, as well as software and reference platform designers.


The conference was designed to educate engineering executives from China’s enormous consumer electronics manufacturing sector about state-of-the-art development in HD Radio technology, such as low-power chipsets and Ipod-related functionality, while marketing managers were able to learn of untapped opportunities in the retail and OEM automotive receiver marketplace.

Ibiquity also hosted a Testing and Certification Session, providing an overview of HD Radio technology, design, development, type approval and testing road maps.

IBOC Across America

The company says it plans to hold its next Chinese HD Radio conference this October, also in Shenzen.

Eye on IBOC

World Space Financial Woes Could Impact European Service Launch
An ongoing attempt by World Space Satellite Radio to reconfigure its existing service infrastructure to launch Europe’s first satellite radio service may fail to achieve orbit. According to the company’s Q1 2008 operating report, a quarter-to-quarter comparison of subscriber revenue showed a drop from 1.9 million in Q4 2008 to 1.7 million dollars, reflecting net subscriber losses in India, the company’s current principal market.

World Space CEO Noah Samara was quoted in a company press release as being “concerned about the company’s cash position and its pending and near term payment obligations, including those to our debt holders.” The company has been publically seeking new investors for some time.

Without new financial partners, World Space’s current fiscal constraints, combined with tight credit markets, could impact the company’s ability to successfully launch a new family of European services on a timely basis. Rollout of European services is currently slated to begin in Italy sometime next year, followed by a planned expansion into Switzerland and Germany, where the company recently won L band spectrum allocation for satellite and terrestrial repeater operations.

HD Radio Terminology

New Design Partners Sign on for HD Radio Software Development
Three Asian software development firms have reportedly signed technology partnership and agreements with Ibiquity Digital. Samboo Info Tech, Analog & Digital Soft Company, and KRS Electronics Company have all inked software development agreements with the company, facilitating software development for advanced HD Radio/consumer product interfaces, including home products and automotive navigation systems.


Both KRS and Analog & Digital Soft have expertise in automotive control head software, and intend to work closely with Ibiquity in development of advanced head units and personal navigation applications that can integrate HD Radio data capabilities such as real time traffic information.

Samboo IT says it will develop software support for home receivers with expanded functionality, such as Ipod tagging/docking stations, storage/replay, and Conditional Access-based systems such as subscription-only audio services.

The partnership agreements reportedly call for Ibiquity to provide development and prototype support to all three firms.

Clear Channel Cuts Deal to Boost Streaming Presence
Clear Channel Radio says it has reached an agreement with UK-based Reciva Streaming that will make the Internet audio streams of more than 800 of its radio outlets immediately available to Internet radio listeners whose dedicated listening devices – so called Wi-fi or Internet Radios – employ Reciva gateway technology. That list includes many popular retail brands such as Grace, Sangean, Tangent and C Crane.

The arrangement will provide a significant online advantage for Clear Channel outlets because Reciva-based Internet Radios operate through a single Internet gateway, rather than thru a galaxy of individual station streaming providers. The specialized portal, working in conjunction with Reciva modules embedded in dedicated consumer devices, provides a single connection point along with a regularly updated, user-searchable list of Internet stations, all without the use of PC-based browser software. Reciva also offers its portal service directly to PC users.

IBOC by State: Missouri
Ibiquity has a list of stations with licensed HD Radio technology and notes those on the air now. IBOC by state looks at various states and lists the stations making the transition. There are 47 stations in the Show Me state broadcasting 75 HD Radio channels.

MarketStationHD1 FormatHD2 FormatHD3 FormatOwner ChillicotheKRNW-FM 88.9Variety–Northwest Missouri State University ColumbiaKBIA-FM 91.3News/ClassicalClassical, News-Talk, AAAExponential RadioUniversity of Missouri JoplinKIXQ-FM 102.5CountryClassic Country-Zimmer Radio JoplinKSYN- FM 92.5Adult CHRCHR/Rhythmic1310 KZRG-AM News/TalkZimmer Radio JoplinKXDG-FM 97.9Classic RockActive Rock-Zimmer Radio Kansas CityKCFX- FM 101.1Classic Rock–Cumulus Media Partners Kansas CityKCJK- FM 105.1Adult Hits–Cumulus Media Partners Kansas CityKCMO- FM 94.9Oldies–Cumulus Media Partners Kansas CityKCUR- FM 89.3News/Talk/Info–University of Missouri Kansas CityKMJK- FM 107.3Urban AC–Cumulus Media Partners Kansas CityKPHN-AM 1190Family Hits–Radio Disney Kansas CityKQRC- FM 98.9AORClassic Live Rock-Entercom Communications Kansas CityKRBZ- FM 96.5AlternativeComedy-Entercom Communications Kansas CityKUDL- FM 98.1Lite ACClassical-Entercom Communications Kansas CityKYYS- FM 99.7Classic RockRock – Deep Cuts-Entercom Communications Kansas CityWDAF- FM 106.5CountrySmooth Jazz-Entercom Communications KirksvilleKKTR- FM 89.7News/Classical–Truman State University KirksvilleKTRM- FM 88.7Alternative–Truman State University LinnKJMO- FM 97.5Oldies–Cumulus Broadcasting MaryvilleKXCV- FM 90.5Variety–Northwest Missouri State University SpringfieldKQRA- FM 102.1Alternative–Mid-West Family Broadcasters SpringfieldKSMU- FM 91.1News/Talk/InfoJazz – News/Talk-Missouri State University SpringfieldKTXR- FM 101.3EasyJazz-Stereo Broadcasting St. LouisKATZ- FM 100.3Hip Hop/Rhythm & BluesClassic Hip-Hop-Clear Channel Radio St. LouisKATZ-AM 1600Gospel–Clear Channel Radio St. LouisKDHX- FM 88.1Variety–Double Helix St. LouisKEZK- FM 102.5ACContemporary Christian-CBS Radio St. LouisKFTK- FM 97.1TalkFox News-Emmis St. LouisKFUO-AM 850Religion–Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod St. LouisKIHT- FM 96.3Classic HitsRock – Classic Hit Spice-Emmis St. LouisKLOU- FM 103.3OldiesAll Rams Radio/Sports-Clear Channel Radio St. LouisKMJM- FM 104.9Urban ACHallelujah-Clear Channel Radio St. LouisKMOX-AM 1120News/Talk/Sports–CBS Radio St. LouisKPNT- FM 105.7AlternativeRock – Alternative-Emmis St. LouisKSD- FM 93.7CountryClassic Country-Clear Channel Radio St. LouisKSHE- FM 94.7Classic RockCountry Variety-Emmis St. LouisKSLZ- FM 107.7CHRNew Top 40-Clear Channel Radio St. LouisKWMU- FM 90.7News/Talk/Info–University of Missouri St. LouisKYKY- FM 98.1Hot ACEclectic Chill-Out-CBS Radio St. LouisWARH- FM 106.5Classic HitsDeep Rock TracksDeep Rock TracksBonneville International St. LouisWFUN-FM 95.5Urban AC–Radio One St. LouisWHHL- FM 104.1Urban–Radio One St. LouisWIL- FM 92.3CountryAll New Country-Bonneville International St. LouisWLCA- FM 89.9New Rock–Lewis & Clark Community College St. LouisWMVN- FM 101.1Rhythmic/ACIchannel -Global Unsigned Bands-Bonneville International St. LouisWSDZ-AM 1260Children–Radio Disney WarrensburgKTBG- FM 90.9AAA–Central Missouri State University

Oh My, It’s Olinda!
A rather unique take on the future of radio has just appeared in the UK, courtesy of the BBC’s Audio and Music Interactive R&D division. It comes in the form of a new DAB prototype receiver platform dubbed Olinda, a radio that “shares listening with friends, is customizable with modular hardware, and aims to provoke discussion on the future and design of radios for the home.”

The basic Olinda platform is nothing more than a DAB receiver built upon Frontier Silicon’s versatile Venice 5 chipset, produced through a BBC commission by Schulze & Webb of London. What sets this plain-vanilla prototype radio apart, however, is a magnetic module dock designed to accept an optional social networking module, which contains a Wi-fi-linkable interface that establishes connections with up to six Olinda-equipped friends to see which DAB channel they are listening to. A touch of the dial allows the user to sample those stations.

But social networking functionality is not what really makes the platform unique. Far more intriguing is that the BBC has made the unit’s operating bus openly accessible through what Olinda developers are calling an Application Programming Interface (API), intended to provide a path for individuals and third parties to extend the functionality of the radio itself. To further facilitate third party applications development, the BCC has granted a feeless, perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive license to use, modify and sublicense concepts, design elements and novel technical solutions in Olinda via free attribution-based licensing. Thus, third party hardware and software developers will have a free hand to develop unique applications for Olinda, providing that they conspicuously publish appropriate notice acknowledging the BBC and its copyright.

Though only in its infancy, the Olinda concept represents a delightfully bold move by the BBC to draw radio’s users into the process of defining how they want to use the radio medium. Whether this experiment bears fruit is yet to be seen, but one can’t help but hope that the recording industry, the NAB, FCC, and Ibiquity are paying close attention.

Mexico Authorizes HD Radio Within 320km of U.S. Border
Columbia, MD – May 21, 2008 – Mexico’s Federal Telecommunications Commission (COFETEL) announced that it is authorizing radio stations within 320km of its border with the United States to begin transmitting with digital HD Radio technology. The official statement from COFETEL states:

Considering the extent of the development and implementation of the IBOC system in the United States of America, Mexico is required to take decisive action so that [the country’s AM and FM radio stations] in the zone located within 320 kilometers of the northern border of Mexico can transmit at the same technological level so that they can provide the benefits of quality service to the radio listening public.

Stations that want to transmit with HD Radio technology must request authorization from COFETEL and must commit to assisting the commission in studying the technology.

The New Language of Digital Radio
layer 1: The lowest protocol layer in the IBOC protocol stack (also known as the waveform/transmission layer). Primarily concerned with the preparation for and transmission of data over the communication channel. Includes framing, channel coding, interleaving and signal generation according to the specified service mode.

layer 2: The protocol layer above Layer 1 at which the multiple services entering Layer 2 are multiplexed to Logical Channels for passage to Layer 1.

lower sideband (LSB): The frequencies below the center frequency of the channel. IBOC digital waveforms are subdivided into groups, half of which occupy the Lower Sideband.

Ibiquity Delivers In-Store HD Radio Demo Solution
If you’ve ever attempted to demo an HD Radio – or any radio, in a big box retail environment, you probably know it’s usually just an exercise in futility. The large, steel-roofed structures are notorious for their propensity to block RF signals from MW thru UHF, and most retailers don’t even bother to supply ac power to radio display shelves for that very reason.

But as consumers confront a new technology such as HD Radio, the inability to actually try out key selling features such as multicast reception could mean that few were willing to make an investment in what many perceive as pricey technology. While master antenna systems provide a solution in some small high-end audio outlets, the sheer size and layout of big box merchandisers makes them difficult and expensive to implement.

But Ibiquity has come up with an answer to the live demo issue, according to an April 15 article in Twice online, which says the company began distributing a limited number of “Retail Demonstration Modules” (RDM) to select retail partners with the goal of enhancing consumers first hands-on experience with HD Radios.

Like the wired FM modulators commonly used to link Ipods to older car audio systems, RDMs transmit a low-power HD hybrid signal at the lower end of the FM band, allowing up to 10 radios to be connected simultaneously. The devices transmit both a continuous music loop along with PAD data, so shoppers can actually here the digital difference and view display data.

The article notes the RDMs have already been placed in key markets at both Circuit City and Bernies retail outlets.