Software-Based Air Chain

Nautel’s vision for the radio air chain is to offer dramatically easier and more affordable digital radio implementations. Our approach will be to create an FM+HD transmitter receiving ALL its modulation content over a synchronous IP link all the way back to a cloud based or server based air chain that allows outstanding resiliency via changeover to a backup air chain or air chains.

Just Add Audio

Nautel’s GV2 transmitters, enhanced versions of its GV Series, are the first in the industry to integrate all HD Radio™ components inside the transmitter. The GV2 supports HD Radio™ with Xperi Gen4 Importer, Exporter, and Exgine implementations for HD radio encoding, station logo and artist experience and is the first solution that locks FM and HD signals synchronously to eliminate HD FM blend drift. Omnia® for Nautel covers all FM and HD Radio audio processing needs and provides Livewire® AoIP inputs for all audio streams. No additional hardware is required.

GV2 is updated with transmitter technologies including new power supplies, solid state storage, a new interface card, and dramatic increases in internal computational capacity. A new generation Nautel AUI based on HTML5 enables the integration of new software components through virtualization technology.

GV2 natively incorporates the software-based radio air chain architecture presented by Nautel at the 2022 NAB Show, which demonstrated the air chain hosted in the AWS cloud; the same software components can also be hosted on the HD MultiCast+ platform and now natively within the GV2 platform. A key component of the architecture is an air chain selector which allows the GV2 to select one of many air chain inputs (FM and all HD) and gracefully change from one feed to another, no matter whether the feed originates from the studio, the cloud, or the internal platform; perfect FM/HD1 time alignment is always guaranteed through the blend lock function without the need of GPS antenna connections. All components can optionally be activated to suit each station’s specific needs.

As long as there is an IP Audio feed available at the transmitter site, operation is Audio In and RF out. FM stations currently operating digital modes or considering a shift to HD Radio will benefit from this ultra-streamlined deployment as well as elimination of time alignment issues.

Nautel will begin accepting orders for the GV2 hardware platform in Q2 2023, with first deliveries anticipated in Q3 2023. Early adopters are expected to be able to test drive the software components by Q4 with a maturing and expanding software feature set expected into 2024.

Radio Air Chain Vision

Characteristics of Nautel’s approach will include:

  • Eliminate HD Radio blend issues and not just correct for them.
  • Build a solution based on existing “made-for-radio” standards.
  • Reduce the number of fixed purpose boxes and wiring components over time.
  • Secure TCP/IP transport.
  • Input via Livewire, AES67.
  • Integrated Omnia for Nautel Audio Processing for FM and HD.

Why cloud, virtualization, and software-based approaches vs physical equipment?

    • Alignment with the IT industry (IP Based)
      • The source of many of our standards (incl security)
      • The source of much of our hardware
    • Customizable and Flexible
      • Workflows vary widely and can change (hybrid options)
      • Spin up and down instances as needed
      • Example: Telos Alliance Omnia Enterprise 9s
    • More future friendly as standards and operating systems change
    •  Reliability/Availability/Maintainability
      • Reduce traditional dedicated broadcast hardware
      • Less wiring / fewer site visits / remote management

Phase 1: Validate the Approach

Nautel and Telos Alliance are bringing exciting, innovative approaches to the radio air chain. The collaborative effort by the two companies paves the way for easier and more flexible digital radio deployments via virtualized audio processing and software-based Gen4 HD Radio importer/exporter.

The companies have illustrated their approach via concept demonstrations showing how a fully time-locked FM+HD air chain can eliminate HD Radio time alignment drift and how this fresh approach can be implemented using a software-based premise server, the Nautel HD MultiCast+. In additional demonstrations the companies have shown how this approach can be hosted in and easily managed via the cloud to achieve high availability. These concept demonstrations were included in a 3-part Radio Air Chain Innovation Webinar Series.

1st to Eliminate HD Radio™ Time Alignment Drift

A new approach to HD Radio™ time alignment, completely eliminating time-alignment issues through locking the FM and HD1 outputs from the audio processor through the remainder of the HD Radio air-chain into the transmitter.
Learn more

1st Cloud-Based Air-Chain with Time-Locked FM + HD Radio™

A time-locked air-chain hosted in the cloud, utilizing the Telos Alliance Omnia Enterprise 9s high-density audio processor, a software-based Gen4 Importer/Exporter, and Nautel technology all running on the Amazon Web Services platform.
Learn more

Watch the following informative and provocative 3-part Radio Air-Chain Innovation Webinar Series to learn more about these disruptive new approaches which can bring your station future opportunities.

#1: Made for Radio Standards

#2: Problem Solved (Live Demo!)

#3 A New Way Forward (Live Demo!)

Phase 2: Development and Field Testing

Nautel and Telos Alliance note that further development and the release of additional products will be needed prior to full deployment of this technology in the industry, but that current products such as the Omnia Enterprise 9s and the Nautel HD MultiCast+ ensure a path that will facilitate these new approaches to simplifying the air-chain.

Nautel is currently in an advanced development phase that will facilitate On-Air trials with a select number of broadcasters in 2023. These trials will further validate the design approach. If your organization is interested in participating in alpha or beta testing please contact your Nautel Regional Sales Manager stating your interest.

Learn more about Nautel’s Air Chain innovation by reviewing these materials:
White Paper: A Cloud-Capable Synchronized Transport Architecture for FM and HD Radio Broadcasting
Presentation: Central Canada Broadcast Engineers, Technologists & Technicians Conference

Phase 3: Final Production Development and Release

Utilizing feedback from the On-Air Field Testing phase Nautel will move towards a Production release. More information and dates will be provide as this final phases nears completion.