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IBiquity Highlights Enhanced Alerting

NAB paper focuses on how its new Active Alerts feature works

Screen images from iBiquity’s Active Alerts demo at the recent CES Show. At the NAB Show, Marek Milbar of iBiquity Digital Corp. will give a detailed description of how HD Radio can incorporate EAS on Tuesday of the Broadcast Engineering Conference.

HD Radio offers the ability to deliver enhanced content to listeners. For FM, multiple audio streams are available providing the broadcaster to offer unique content options on a given channel. Additional capabilities include data streams.

FCC rules require HD Radio broadcasters to incorporate EAS into each audio stream. IBiquity Digital offers a new technology called Active Alerts, by which compatible receivers can provide the listener with enhanced EAS information via the Common Alerting Protocol. JVC’s model KW-NT810HDT offers this feature; more models are expected on the market.

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Milbar is senior director for Advanced Programs Engineering at iBiquity; he’s been working on IBOC technologies since joining Lucent Technologies in the late 1990s. His paper, “Enhanced Emergency Alerting Delivery Mechanism Over HD Radio Signals,” addresses the features, technical details and advantages of the system.

“An HD Radio receiver that supports Active Alerts will be able to receive an EAS CAP message from a station that is using Active Alerts-enabled HD Radio transmission equipment,” Milbar said.

If the receiver is off but powered, it scans the band for an HD Radio station with the Active Alerts service, and may continue to do so until it finds a station where an alert is being broadcast. The receiver then powers itself on and delivers the alert. The receiver also potentially may allow certain user settings, such as location, in order to receive only relevant alerts.

The notifications can generate pop-up text messages and/or trigger wakeup/snooze alerts on compatible receivers during weather alerts or local events.

To activate the functionality, Milbar said, a station must make sure that its HD Radio equipment has current firmware, check its network to allow IP connectivity between its alert processor and exporter, and configure the alert processor using an existing menu.

Audio routing remains the same. The added alert text and controls are delivered over SIS (Station Information Services), so the service does not compete with regular audio or data services or their bandwidth allocations.

Milbar notes that the system relies on equipment that HD Radio stations already have, so they need not incur additional spending.

At this winter’s CES Show, iBiquity Jeff Jury said, “HD Radio Active Alerts offers a more compelling and reliable public service capability to radio broadcasters and the public.” Another advantage, for terrestrial radio stations, is to maintain par with Internet and TV broadcasters who already have such rich content delivery capabilities.