Motorola Asks: Why IBOC? Just Make the Radio Sound Better

Another type of digital radio was alluded to at the NAB Radio Show. Motorola didn't want to discuss its new radio chipset publicly and place a damper on its product debut at AES, but the company did share some specifics with reporters.
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AUSTIN, Texas Another type of digital radio was alluded to at the NAB Radio Show. Motorola didn't want to discuss its new radio chipset publicly and place a damper on its product debut at AES, but the company did share some specifics with reporters.

Motorola has designed a radio chipset platform that it says will make a radio sound better than analog and enlarge a station's coverage area. The company is calling its invention "a disruptive technology" that "raises the bar as to whether IBOC makes sense," said John Hansen, Motorola's director of marketing for driver information systems.

The Motorola Symphony Digital Radio uses a chipset approach for an Intermediate Frequency radio. It combines digital signal processors with an RF front-end and intermediate frequency analog interface.

The radio uses software algorithms to tune, filter and improve the signal in place of analog circuits. Motorola says the software helps the listener tune to more stations than is possible with analog receivers.

Symphony's Channel Effects Equalizer allows listeners to "hold on" to a clear signal longer, farther than listeners now can hear analog stations, said Hansen. How much farther was difficult to quantify.

"The Variable IF Filter algorithm used in Symphony automatically and dynamically adjusts itself to both 100 kHz and 200 kHz band channel spacing, which allows it to react to any changes," according to Motorola.

The FM demodulator algorithm used in Symphony separates the FM signal from the carrier. The company claims this algorithm provides a wider listening range and improved signal-to-noise ratio under weak signal conditions.

Motorola is offering the platform to its customers, particularly automobile manufacturers, to get aftermarket Symphony Digital Radios to consumers by late next year and in-dash models ready for automakers in the same time frame for 2005 car models.

Hansen estimated the retail cost of a Symphony radio would be between $10 to $5 more than current analog radios.

Several radio group engineers at the Radio Show said the concept has been tried, unsuccessfully. Ibiquity does not see Symphony as a competitor to HD Radio.

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