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IBOC Q&A: On-Demand Audio Not Far Off

Q: Ibiquity has talked about additional benefits of digital broadcasting, one being on-demand audio. What will my listeners get from this service?

This is one in a series in which Ibiquity Digital Corp. answers questions about how to implement HD Radio, the newly-trademarked name for its in-band, on-channel digital audio broadcasting technology. Director of Wireless Data Joe D’Angelo answers here.

Q: Ibiquity has talked about additional benefits of digital broadcasting, one being on-demand audio. What will my listeners get from this service?

A: As the first generation of HD Radio receivers prepared for launch at the 2003 Consumer Electronics Show, both broadcaster and receiver manufacturers are beginning to anticipate the enhanced services that second-generation receivers will enable. Improved audio quality and performance as well as program-associated information will be the hallmark of the early HD Radio receivers, with future generations promising to unlock the full potential of the digital AM and FM channels.

One of the most anticipated capabilities has been broadly embodied in the phrase “on-demand audio.” While this may mean many things to different people, the impact on radio listeners will be profound, creating new opportunities for radio stations.

For example, radio listeners will gain more control over the content they listen to and when they listen to it. Additional information services and programming will be delivered and stored on a receiver without interruption to the main broadcast programming.

We anticipate that many of the features that drive the popular personal video recorders in the TV space will find their way over time to the digital radio space. Listeners will be able to select information they want, when they want it. This could offer many new opportunities for the delivery of news, traffic and, potentially, complete entertainment programs.

Just imagine your listeners never missing their favorite drive time programs on your station, regardless of when they choose to tune in. This capability represents radio’s response to the many emerging personal audio and entertainment devices being introduced into vehicles. Developments are underway that will help make that a reality.

While these capabilities will not appear overnight, they are not far off. The fundamental capabilities are being deployed today in stations as they convert to an HD Radio system, and soon the applications and receiver technologies will converge to deliver new and exciting capabilities to digital radio listeners. Stay tuned.

Ibiquity is planning to host a wireless data forum at NAB 2003. The forum is open to all current and potential broadcasting, manufacturing and content providers. Details are to come, but interested parties should contact Ibiquity Marketing Communications Manager Laura Taylor at [email protected] for information closer to the show.

Send your IBOC questions to [email protected]. Radio World welcomes other points of view.