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.
Read more Digital Radio Showcase
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).
Conditional Access (CA) is a technology by which the ability to hear an audio stream or access a data service over HD Radio signals would be inhibited except for those so authorized. While the idea has been around for a few years and there have been some experiments by several broadcasters using multicast audio or data services, the system hasn’t really gained much traction. Earlier implementations were somewhat expensive and, at times, unstable. In order to secure the desired broadcasts, make it easier for broadcasters, and of course, be cost effective, there has been some system redesign. Read more>>
US broadcasters are well aware of features available in HD Radio technology that go beyond audio streams. DRM, which is used in many other places in the world, also features non-audio services. Journaline® from Fraunhofer IIs in Germany has recently been incorporated into Clear Channel’s Total Traffic Network in the US as well as being offered by DRM and DRM+. Journaline is a text service which can display information on the display that is not program related (news, weather, sports, etc.). Click here to see an example.
Other non-audio multimedia services are also available via DRM to provide a richer experience to listeners. The Electronic Program Guide (similar to what Cable/Satellite TV offers) can automatically tune the receiver and record in the background (receiver dependent), the MOT Slide Show (still images which may be program-oriented or not), real-time traffic services tied to GPS displays, and motion video are all available over the air.
These are important features for radio because we have all heard the term “convergence”, and the additional features can permit traditional radio to morph into a much richer multimedia experience for consumers who now want what they want, when they want it, rather than adhering to a strict audio broadcast schedule. Here is an example of a multimedia DRM receiver by Uniwave
Speaking of HD Radio software, Nautel software engineers have been busy integrating the latest release from iBiquity into Nautel’s HD Radio transmission equipment (Importer 4.3.1 and Exporter 4.3.2). The main feature included in this new release is the ability of the Importer to operate the HD-4 multicast stream. Please note that when operating HD-4, the HD-1,2,3 MUST be in the primary MP1 area (first 96 kb/s) with HD-4 in the Extended Hybrid partition, using MP3 operating mode.
There is also a new E2X (Exporter to Exgine) distribution called Multicast (as compared to Broadcast). Please do not confuse this Multicast with multiple audio channels. This Multicast mode is where one Exporter can feed specific IP addresses (even if in separate subnets) of up to 16 Exgine cards. This would be useful in a station network where all stations broadcast the same programming from multiple sites but require only one Exporter (and Importer, if applicable). This differs from a simple Broadcast which is both bandwidth inefficient and requires the use of a single subnet. Support is now included for album art and slide show features for future multimedia receivers.
Over on the AM side, the modified AM mode MA-1 has been incorporated. This new mode which permits stations to operate the full NRSC analog frequency response was described in our last Digital Showcase.
Nautel customers wishing to upgrade their HD Radio equipment may download and install the latest release. Users of other transmitters should contact their respective manufacturers.
Finally, Nautel is hosting International Digital Radio Tutorial Webinars featuring HD Radio technology and DRM. These webinars will be presented at convenient times for participants around the world.
Next issue, we’ll look at different operating modes of DRM, and outline some of the countries which are operating DRM and HD Radio technologies on their road to digitalization.