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Nautel Introduces “HD Digital Radio Test Drive”

Stations buying a GV2 can test HD for up to six months

Logo for the Nautel Digital Test Drive program, with a car steering wheel next to the textNautel has launched a program offering stations a “digital radio test drive.” It will allow customers who buy or lease a GV2 transmitter to also have a six-month trial of HD Radio with minimal investment.

“Nautel wants to break down the barriers keeping many broadcasters from trying HD Radio broadcasting,” the manufacturer said in its announcement.

“HD Radio transmission has the potential to create critical presence on the car dashboard and help stations stay competitive in a field of alternative media choices.” A recent study by Quu Inc. found that two out of three new cars in the United States now have HD Radio.

The test drive offer takes advantage of Nautel’s software-based air chain. Broadcasters need a GV2 transmitter, content delivery via LiveWire and an Xperi license.

“For eligible broadcasters Nautel can provide Omnia for Nautel audio processing, importer, exporter and exgine as a software load. That allows the broadcaster to place their main station and as many as three extra multiplexed channels on air for up to six months. Broadcasters won’t need extra expensive boxes to implement HD Radio because audio processing, digital coding and synchronization will all be running inside the GV2.”

Head of Marketing and Product Strategy John Whyte was quoted in the release saying the program allows broadcasters to test revenue-generating opportunities without a commitment to the software licenses and HD hardware normally required, so they can experiment with formats, language programming or pop-up event stations.

“Additionally, stations will have the opportunity to see the impact on listener retention and engagement when album art or graphics appear on a car dashboard. While we can’t eliminate the need for a broadcaster to have an HD capable transmitter, our ‘Just Add Audio’ HD approach helps us do our best to minimize the next $40–50K worth of boxes and complexity that may keep a broadcaster from getting an HD Radio signal on the air.”

A broadcaster would lease or purchase a GV2 and obtain an HD Radio license from Xperi and trial agreement with Nautel. They would provide content for up to four channels delivered via Livewire or AES67. The “Just Add Audio” capability in the GV2 transmitter is Gen4 ready, allowing users to test HD1, 2, 3, and 4 streams without purchasing external equipment such as Importer, Exporter and Exgine.

The GV2 also incorporates a software processor, Omnia for Nautel, that covers FM and HD Radio audio processing feeds and provides Livewire AoIP inputs for audio streams. HD operation is achieved through a software license from Nautel. Under the test drive the Nautel license fees are waived for six months.

At the end of the trial, the broadcaster can decide to continue with all or a partial implementation of the HD Radio deployment by purchasing or subscribing to Nautel’s software-based air chain. If the broadcaster decides against HD Radio transmission at that time, the GV2 will default to traditional FM transmission.