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Questions a Go Go in Sat Rad/IBOC Tuner NOI

Should HD Radio be required in Sirius XM tuners? How about the other way around?

True to its word, the commission this week announced a Notice of Inquiry in relation to the sat rad ruling — about whether HD Radio receive capability should be mandated in such receivers in the future.

Actually, the FCC broadened the topic, calling it “Development of Devices Capable of Supporting Multiple Entertainment Services.”

I counted more than 65 questions in its Notice of Inquiry, asking for comment on how the open access commitment would affect the development of such radios and how the lack of multi-functional receivers affects competition among S-DARS, HD Radio, iPod/MP3, Internet or any other technologies.

The commission seeks comment on information Ibiquity has held close to its vest, like “To what extent is the cost of HD Radio chips and technology attributable to licensing fees for intellectual property?” Questions about how size, weight and battery life affect the cost of including HD-R in a sat tuner — or conversely, if sat rad were mandated in HD Radio tuners — are asked as well.

The agency also asks for comment on whether it has the authority to mandate a certain technology in receivers. Comments on the item to Docket 08-172 are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

As an aside, I notice in a footnote the FCC is saying there are some 1,570 stations on the air with an IBOC signal. Ibiquity is now using a 1,765 figure. I predict we’ll see someone from the Audio Division, perhaps Peter Doyle, politely ask during a regulatory session at the upcoming NAB Show that stations please let the commission know if they’re transmitting both an analog and digital signal. Just a hunch.

My other hunch is it’s going to take a long time until a final decision on the NOI sees the light of day.