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Field Trials Begin for HD Radio EPG Project

Boston IBOC stations start transmitting data; group also now exploring Web access and mobile apps

Field trials are underway in the Boston area for an HD Radio electronic program guide. AM and FM stations in Worcester, Mass., and Providence, R.I., also will be involved, to show how an EPG for HD Radio stations might serve listeners as they travel.

The field testing is part of an NAB FASTROAD project to develop business requirements, a system architecture and specifications of an HD Radio EPG, an interactive, on-screen guide to scheduled broadcast programming set up for local station use.

Broadcast Signal Lab’s Managing Partner David Maxson said in the announcement that the trial will provide a good obstacle course. He said the three markets will “challenge the EPG delivery models” because they represent various market sizes, are near each other and have numerous HD Radio stations, many with multicasts.

BIA Advisory Services and Broadcast Signal Lab are managing the project. Unique Interactive has been contracted to develop EPG service bureau and client software. Consumer electronics manufacturer Cydle Corp. has joined as a partner and is developing a HD Radio device with EPG capabilities. For this trial, it will incorporate EPG functionality into the Cydle, a new portable GPS car navigation device with HD Radio, planned for third quarter release.

Given the pace at which the broadcast industry is embracing Internet streaming and broadband-based mobile services, the EPG group said it has extended its plans to include Web access and a mobile application demonstration on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

IBiquity Digital has built a set of EPG-capable receivers for the field trial so participating broadcasters can monitor transmissions the same way users would see the EPG data on future consumer receivers.

The EPG consortium wants comments on its work to date. Interested parties can review its initial conclusions (PDF). Comments can be sent to Rick Ducey at [email protected].