National Public Radio (for which I work) and iBiquity Digital Corporation today jointly filed with the FCC a framework to allow an increase in digital power of at least 6 dB while minimizing the occurrence and severity of interference to existing analog operations. I’ll withhold specific comments except to say that this agreement makes me more optimistic about the future of digital radio in this country than I have in a long time. It’s intended to help digital radio succeed. I’m following this with the press release and then links to two press reports which have already appeared.
NPR & IBIQUITY STRIKE DEAL ON HD RADIO POWER INCREASE
Blanket 6 dB increase, interference safeguards recommended to FCC; higher power levels possible
November 5, 2010,
; iBiquity Digital Corporation and NPR announced an agreement for managing an HD Radio™ power increase that will significantly improve reception of HD Radio signals. The two organizations are jointly presenting their recommendations to the FCC today and encouraging the Commission to move to adopt the power increase quickly. Washington, DC
“We are delighted that the radio industry is now poised to push this technology ahead together. We’ve found practical and balanced solutions that will greatly improve reception while limiting interference to existing analog operations,” said Bob Struble, President and CEO of iBiquity Digital Corporation.
The agreement proposes that the Commission authorize a blanket 6 dB increase for all commercial and non-commercial radio stations’ digital power from the current level of -20 dBc to a power level of -14 dBc; this is four times the current power level. NPR and iBiquity consulted with a broad spectrum of commercial and noncommercial stations over the last few weeks, and identified several conditions and criteria to manage the power increase process. These conditions were informed by NPR Labs' recent field research, “Advanced IBOC Coverage and Compatibility Study,” filed with the Commission earlier this week. Conditions of the blanket increase included commitment by iBiquity and NPR to additional enhancements to the HD Radio™ system. The development work of the two organizations will focus on single frequency networks to fill gaps in digital coverage, asymmetrical digital sidebands to reduce the potential for digital interference to short spaced first adjacent analog stations, and low bitrate codecs and conditional access crucial to moving radio reading services into the mainstream of digital radio broadcasting.
Notably, the two organizations offered an approach to additional power increases beyond a 6 dB increase, depending on spacing criteria and conditions that limit harmful interference, and initial models suggest most stations will be able to exceed 6 dB.
Mike Starling, Executive Director of NPR Labs, said “We are optimistic about the future of HD Radio broadcasting, and eager to continue to work with iBiquity on the developments that will make this power increase work to everyone’s advantage – stations, listeners, and receiver makers.”
"I am thrilled that a workable and efficacious compromise has been agreed to on this extremely important and controversial issue," said Milford Smith, Vice President of Radio Engineering at Greater Media, Inc. "Replication of analogue coverage by the new, digital service is absolutely critical to the continued successful roll out of HD Radio technology."
iBiquity and NPR encouraged the Commission to act on unresolved complaints in cases in which interference is shown to cause a problem.
The agreement also proposes a series of steps drawn from the current AM rules for interference to be applied to qualifying and limiting harmful interference with analog at the 6 dB increase level (-14 dBc). These steps would remediate harmful interference from any stations increasing power above the existing -20 dBc power level.
[paragraphs describing NPR and iBiquity omitted]