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IBiquity Seeks Interim FM IBOC Power Increase

The company asks the FCC to allow a 6 dB hike

HD Radio developer iBiquity Digital, hoping the Federal Communications Commission will approve an FM IBOC power increase quickly, is asking the agency to approve a 6 dB increase pending final approval of the proposed 10 dB hike.

A 6 dB increase is attainable for many FM stations using existing transmission equipment and can be accomplished relatively quickly, iBiquity wrote in a new filing, while an increase of less than 6 dB would provide “insignificant improvement” that would not address coverage concerns.

The deadline to file initial comments with the FCC about the proposed voluntary power increase was Monday.

Tests completed by Greater Media in Boston showed a 6 dB increase in digital power “provides FM broadcasters with a significant improvement in coverage that comes close to replicating analog coverage for mobile users,” iBiquity wrote.

The expected introduction of HD Radio portables this fall increases the urgency, says iBiquity, which argues that uncertainty surrounding a power increase has slowed the pace of station conversions. Also, automakers and receiver manufacturers have “expressed concern” about consumer reaction to digital products that may not benefit from the same coverage as analog receivers, adds the company.

A full 10 dB increase is still needed to “truly replicate analog coverage” especially for indoor listening, continues iBiquity, which, while helping NPR perform subsequent testing related to the power level issue, has urged the commission to approve an increase now. NPR has said it intends to have its power level tests completed and a report issued by the fall, but iBiquity, “as an active test participant,” said meeting that timetable is unlikely.