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HD Radio Data Services Testing in Canada

BTC, Nautel, iBiquity partner with Corus on mobile field testing of HD Radio-delivered traffic data

Mobile field testing of HD Radio data services has begun in Canada.

The Broadcaster Traffic Consortium, Nautel and iBiquity Digital are combining resources and personnel with Corus Media and Entertainment to test HD Radio-delivered traffic data on CING(FM), Hamilton, Ontario, which is the Toronto market.

The news is notable because while some HD Radio technology tests were conducted in Canada years ago, before the government chose DAB as the country’s official digital radio technology, these would be the first tests of HD Radio’s advanced data capabilities in that country.

Industry Canada approved an experimental license for the traffic data testing, according to BTC President Paul Brenner.

The testing is focused primarily on the HD Radio signal coverage and data service capability, he told Radio World. Brenner says “Canadian data services testing with HD Radio technology is at the request of automakers and device makers. Given the past experience with digital radio via DAB and a receiver market that never matured, an ROI model like the HD Radio data services we are building is the key motivator for Canadian broadcasters.”

The BTC asked Cox Radio engineer Roz Clarke to assist with the installation of HD Radio transmission equipment on loan from Nautel for the testing, including an exciter, importer and exporter.

Come February, the BTC plans to invite automakers and handheld device makers to come to Canada and conduct their own testing, Brenner said. At the end of the test period, an assessment of the results will define the future investments of HD Radio in Canada, at least for BTC purposes.

BTC was formed in 2007 to build a nationwide terrestrial broadcasting network to distribute local traffic and other map-related data using analog FM and HD radio technology. Founding members are Beasley Broadcast Group; Bonneville International Corporation; Cox Radio, Inc.; Emmis Communications; Entercom Communications Corp.; Greater Media; NPR and Radio One. Originally eight broadcast groups contributed to the network; the BTC has grown to include more than 20 broadcast groups.

Over 1,500 stations are available to the BTC through the varying broadcast groups, covering some 80 to 90 markets. Brenner says the group plans to add another 20 or so cities in the next six months.