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
As NAB approaches people are naturally conscious of industry happenings and new product announcements. Here’s an update on some items in digital radio, specifically HD Radio™ technology and DRM.
FCC and Asymmetrical HD Radio Broadcasting
Nautel has been a strong proponent of asymmetrical HD Radio power levels with its HD PowerBoost™ technology, being the first company to demonstrate and then commercialize it. Purchasers of VS or NV Series FM transmitters may, if desired, receive the asymmetrical option from HD PowerBoost at no additional cost. This may permit a station to exceed the blanket -14 dBc power limit if they can demonstrate that one of the sidebands is clear of interference. Recently a consulting engineer shared with me as many as half or more Class B/C stations east of the Mississippi River might require asymmetric operation to exceed the blanket level, as well as if located in major cities such as Chicago, and again on the west coast.
A number of stations have operated with an Experimental Authorization for asymmetrical power to make measurements and to help the Commission assess the technology. Most were Nautel NV transmitters including WAMU (Washington), WUSF (Tampa), WHRV (Hampton Roads, VA) and WKLB (Boston). Once the Commission passes the new rules, stations will not require Experimental Authorizations but will need to file an engineering exhibit to prove they will not create interference to other adjacent stations.
Mexico City HD Radio Rollout
For the last 4-5 years Mexico has had HD Radio broadcast signals on the air but only in the US border area. Last year they gave the system an official nod, permitting any Mexico FM station the authority to deploy digital transmissions. Six stations in Mexico City are set to launch this month, along with a media blitz with consumer radios in several retail store chains. All form factors are to be available – after market auto, portables, tabletop sets, etc. Currently, retail training is underway. Nautel is a major player in the HD Radio rollout in Mexico and has had several FM stations on the air there for some years in the border area.
Vatican City DRM+ Trial
Nautel is the first company to commercialize a DRM+ transmitter and has been involved heavily over the last year with trials around the world. These tests have been conducted with both NV and VS Series transmitters in Brazil, Scotland, India and most recently, Vatican City. Rome is an extremely difficult place for any type of FM band trial because it is loaded with legal stations plus dozens of pirate operations. The spectrum congestion is beyond belief, but DRM+ performed “better than we expected” according to Vatican Radio Technical Director, Paolo Lazzarini. Vatican Radio has a full-power station on 103.8 MHz into a large multiplexed antenna system (see pictures) which offers a good transmitter location for the testing. The Nautel VS1 with VS-DRM was installed and operated into this antenna. Only 125 watts of DRM power was used, yet as can be seen on the plot, coverage was quite consistent. Vatican Radio will be issuing a complete and formal report on this trial which was conducted in December – February, just a short time ago.
Romania Adopting HD Radio
And exciting news from Romania, our dealer there (2M Prima Telecom’s George Pletea) emailed me recently to say that after broadcasting for more than a year with an experimental authorization, SBS’s KISS-FM Bucharest now has a permanent HD Radio license complete with multicasting. This paves the way for SBS as well as other broadcasters in Romania to adopt the digital technology. KISS operates a national network and has been purchasing VS and NV transmitters and plans to add HD Radio broadcasting to other stations over time. The Bucharest facility uses a Nautel NV3.5 transmitter with Exporter Plus and Importer Plus and currently features HD1 and HD2 programming. 2M Prima Telecom maintains a VS-HD, and VS300 to demonstrate HD Radio to broadcasters and regulators in that country.
HD Radio is a registered trademark of iBiquity Digital Corporation