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Opponents Worry About Digital Power Hike; Would It Be ‘Highly Destructive’?

IBOC power increase draws diverse views.

Public comments have begun trickling into the FCC about the proposed voluntary power increase for FM IBOC.

Car maker Ford supports the proposal to allow stations to decide whether they want to increase their digital power by up to 10 dB (from the current –20 dB below analog carrier up to –10 dB). It’s concerned the public will not accept the benefits of HD Radio unless the technology is able to replicate analog coverage.

Coverage problems are particularly acute in a car environment, Ford says, as mobile reception is more susceptible to multipath interference and other impairments as cars drive in and out of areas with interference. Ford is not crazy however, about the separate idea of mandating HD Radio in satellite radios but says it “hopes to offer HD Radio as an original equipment installation in the near future.” Of course, Ford has bigger economic worries on its plate right now, too.

Don Messer — former head of the technical committee for Digital Radio Mondiale and before that a chair of the NRSC group involved in the technical evaluation and standardization of IBOC — writes as a private citizen that he sees two gaps in testing so far; he’s curious to see what effect a power increase would have on the host analog signal and on LPFMs.

Some stations have filed in opposition to a power hike, including WOLF(FM) in Oswego, N.Y., which believes a “blanket” jump in digital power would be “highly destructive to the integrity of the FM analog service.”

But perhaps truer words were never spoken than those submitted by Jonathan Hardis, the NIST representative to the NRSC, writing as a private citizen here; he told the FCC that the industry is not speaking with one voice on this issue. That very disagreement, and other reasons, “mitigate against adopting the proposal in the near term,” he wrote.

Comments are due by COB tomorrow (Friday) to MM Docket 99-325.