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Xperi Describes More Planned Tests at All-Digital AM

Hubbard Radio has requested another extension of WWFD's STA

A dashboard display of WWFD AM
WWFD “The Gamut” is displayed on the HD Radio receiver of a 2019 Toyota Highlander. 

Hubbard Radio is asking the Federal Communications Commission to let it operate its experimental all-digital AM band station for another year. HD Radio parent Xperi supports this and has given the FCC some insight into the kinds of additional testing it wants to do there.

The station, WWFD in Frederick, Md., not far from Washington, has been a test bed for all-digital HD Radio transmission on an AM station since 2018, as we’ve reported. Its FM translator continues providing service to analog Listeners. (A second STA for all-digital was recently approved for Urban One station WTLC(AM) in Indianapolis.)

Chief Engineer and Program Director Dave Kolesar has said he hopes WWFD will never return to analog; and the FCC recently took comments on a proposal that would allow all U.S. AM band stations to use all-digital transmission if they wish.

[Read “Broadcasters Get Behind All-Digital AM Option”]

“WWFD’s all-digital experiments over the past two years have sparked widespread positive interest in the radio industry,” Hubbard’s local arm writes in the application to extend Special Temporary Authority. It characterized industry support for the FCC proposal as overwhelming.

Meanwhile HD Radio parent Xperi Corp. says in a supporting statement that it plans to expand its testing of an HD2 multicast audio service, which would create a second audio service in addition to the main program services. “We would like to experiment with different audio bitrate sizes used, and audio formats (Parametric Stereo),” it wrote.

Xperi also wants to try different data services alongside those now deployed. It wants to test Emergency Alerts services and new advanced alerting services; test the performance of MA3 vs. analog in various all‐electric vehicles; and test changes to the MA3 all-digital waveform by reducing the power level of the unmodulated pilot carrier level. It also wants to compare building penetration for all-digital, hybrid digital and analog modes.

Hubbard and Xperi have been supported in this project by the National Association of Broadcasters Pilot program, Kintronic Labs and Cavell Mertz & Associates.

[Read our profile of Dave Kolesar from December 2019.]