Nautel-Digital-Radio-Showcase-Hal Kneller
Hal Kneller is a 40 year veteran of the broadcast industry working both as an engineer for WGCU, WGSM, WCTO, WPAT as well as owner/operator of five of his own stations.
Hal is a past International Sales Manager for Europe for Nautel. He also worked for iBiquity Digital Corporation as Director of International Broadcast Development where he played a pivotal role in the promotion of Digital Radio.
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by Hal Kneller


Welcome to Digital Radio Showcase, a regular column featuring the latest technical news and information regarding in-band digital radio solutions including HD RadioTM technology and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM).

In this month’s Digital Showcase we’ll examine a recent meeting with members of the Canadian broadcast community (along with Canadian regulatory agencies) on their future possibilities in digital radio. Then we will update you on HD PowerBoost and the VS-HD which will enable HD Radio transmissions on our new low power VS-transmitter line.

Members of the DRM Consortium were invited to a meeting in Ottawa, Canada to discuss Canada’s digital radio future on 16 November. As you may know, Canada has had a failed start with DAB on L-Band, and transmissions for the most part are discontinued. Broadcasters and regulators in Canada have been looking at alternatives for a possible migration to digital. Ruxandra Obreja, DRM Chair, Lindsay Cornell, DRM Technical Committee Chair and I, member of DRM executive and steering boards attended, along with our CEO/President Peter Conlon and Canadian Sales Manager Gary Manteuffel. The meetings were arranged through Nautel, Ltd.

From Canada, technology directors of many broadcast groups along with consulting engineers and the regulatory agencies Canadian Radio & Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) who assigns station licenses and Industry Canada, the spectrum regulator, were in attendance, hosted by the Canadian Research Centre at their Ottawa headquarters. The meeting was held under the auspices of the Broadcasting Technical Advisory Committee. Representatives from Corus Entertainment, CTV, Astral and others attended, virtually all the major radio broadcasters in the country were there.

The DRM Consortium presented market and technical information about both DRM30 and DRM+ and CRC (Canadian Research Centre) updated everyone on their considerable work in laboratory research of DRM technology.


DRM Consortium presentation in Ottawa on November 16, 2010

Because of the complexities of the Canadian situation, there is no rush into a second attempt to broadcast digitally. However, the presentations were punctuated by numerous questions and answers indicating considerable interest and a knowledgeable and spirited engagement with the subject of digital radio generally and its possibilities in Canada. It was also mentioned that Canada has been turning off medium wave AM stations and perhaps this would be a very good place for DRM30 transmissions as spectrum is readily available. There could also be a place for the DRM+ in Band I as broadcasters and regulators alike agreed that in all the major Canadian cities, the existing Band II frequencies are very crowded.

While no final decisions were reached, the DRM Consortium was very well received. The next steps are to continue the dialogue and to see about possible future trials of DRM in Canada.

On the HD Radio front, HD PowerBoost first commenced actual on-air operation in a field test on WAMU in Washington, DC back in September, 2010. Recently I was privileged to present the sign Nautel had at its table on NAB Radio Show in Washington last September to John Holt, director of engineering at WAMU, thanking them for their assistance in testing the technology. HD Powerboost exciters are expected to begin shipping to customers who have them on order by the end of this month.


Nautel's Hal Kneller with WAMU Director of Engineering, John Holt

During 2010 the three VS transmitter models, VS300, VS1 and VS2.5 began shipping and have been extremely well received in the marketplace. In the first year, over 200 units have been shipped. However, with these initial shipments, the ability to operate with HD Radio technology was not yet available. VS-HD will enable any of these models to add HD Radio transmission. To actually broadcast using HD Radio technology, VS-HD will need the ExporterPlus and, if multicast audio or advanced data services are required, the ImporterPlus. In a few months the VS Series will also be able to transmit DRM+ with a similar digital adapter. This will require the addition of a DRM Content Server and DRM Modulator to complete the transmission chain.

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