WUSF Testing Conditional Access

WUSF(FM) in Tampa, a long-time IBOC test bed and the first public station to go IBOC, is the site of conditional access field testing for HD Radio this spring.
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WUSF(FM) in Tampa, a long-time IBOC test bed and the first public station to go IBOC, is the site of conditional access field testing for HD Radio this spring.

Tests were to begin March 19 and continue through early May, according to Tom Dollenmayer, station manager for radio and TV, WUSF Public Broadcasting.

The University of South Florida licensee holds a Special Temporary Authority to air an HD3 channel. It will transmit the conditional access test programming on that channel.

WUSF airs news programming on its HD2 channel and news and classical music on its main channel.

The station would use the extended hybrid mode for the test and continue to operate with a throughput rate of 48 kilobits per second on its main HD and HD2 channels.

Representatives from Harris, Ibiquity, NDS and NPR Labs plan to be on hand for the testing. NPR and Harris were two of the companies, along with Kenwood, in the original Tomorrow Radio project that helped push the radio industry to awareness of multicasting.

For the WUSF tests, Sangean HD Radio receivers will be used, though NDS says it’s working with multiple receiver manufacturers in developing the technology. Sangean HD Radio tuners are being used because they are close to the Ibiquity reference design, said Joe D’Angelo, Ibiquity vice president, Advanced Services.

The International Association of Audio Information Services will provide reading-service material for the WUSF test, according to Hal Kneller, senior manager of public radio initiatives for Harris. Kneller also sits on the IAAIS board.

WUSF expected to use a throughput rate of 25 kbps on the extended hybrid carriers for the HD3 channel, said Kneller.

NDS is supplying the hardware to support its conditional access software. The units de-scramble the signal and allow a station to turn the feature on and off, said Tom Rucktenwald, director of data applications delivery for NDS.

Both units are installed ahead of the Importer in the air chain of a Gen 2 IBOC station.

Since WUSF went IBOC so early, it does not have the Gen 2 equipment configuration, with both the Importer and the Exporter located at the studio. For this test, Harris is loaning WUSF an Importer with the updated Ibiquity software. It, along with the Exporter, will be in the studio.

The station is using a T-1 telephone line as its studio-transmitter link to transmit its multicast and main HD-R audio.

The tuners will be modified for the test so that the signals that are scrambled can be heard, said Kneller.

Addressing the receivers

During the tests, “We will be looking at all aspects of broadcasting and reception,” said Rucktenwald. “In terms of entitlement, we will have the capability to individually address every radio and exercise them,” meaning turning their conditional access capability on and off, he said.

The tests will be videotaped and audio-recorded so participants can use clips during Broadcast Engineering Conference presentations at NAB and demos on the show floor.

“We have to give the equipment back to Ibiquity, Harris and NDS at the end of May so we can put our HD2 back on the air as is without changing our configuration,” Dollenmayer said.

He added he’s curious to see how long the system takes to set up; he’s been told it takes about an hour.

Before the test ends, participants hope to demo the conditional access feature for the IAAIS board, tentatively planned for May 9. The next day, the system is to be demoed for members of Florida SBE chapters, giving those who don’t make it to the NAB a chance to see the system.

Broadcast Electronics plans conditional access field tests with some Emmis stations after NAB, according to spokesman Neil Glassman. He didn’t specify the stations, saying plans were in flux before the show.

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