New HD Radio Applications Seek to Fix System Flaws

There’ve been a couple of interesting developments out of the HD Radio trenches over the last few months. Both are touted as advanced “applications” for utilizing the HD Radio system — but in reality they’re band-aids that seek to fix fundamental flaws with the technology itself.

The first involves transmitter-manufacturer Nautel and its experiments with FM-HD multiplexing. This practice is inherent to the DAB/DAB+ radio systems adopted in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere: instead of every station having its own transmission infrastructure, stations send a stream to a multiplex transmitter where it’s combined with other stations and broadcast as a unifed signal. Instead of tuning to a particular frequency, DAB/DAB+ receivers look for the data-flags of the desired station and, once found, decode only that stream. In this configuration, DAB/DAB+ multiplexes can broadcast 10 or more channels of programming on a single unified digital radio signal. Read More

Patent Troll Gives Up on HD Radio

Good news for iBiquity et al.: a simmering fight with patent trolls seeking recompense from hundreds of broadcasters and auto manufacturers over their implementation of HD Radio has been quashed.

The trolls folded first. On April 23, Delaware Radio Technologies and Wyncomm LLC notified the Federal District Court in Delaware that they wanted to terminate their lawsuits “with prejudice,” meaning they cannot be refiled. iBiquity, who countersued the trolls last year, moved for dismissal of its case on May 6. Read More

Comparing Progress: HD Radio vs. DAB/DAB+

The annual NAB Show in Las Vegas is now behind us, and with it a bevy of announcements regarding HD Radio, the U.S. digital radio standard:

1. More test-results were announced regarding the workings of all-digital AM-HD Radio. Not many details: additional stations have conducted field-tests, and while the digital signal does sound better than the analog and hybrid analog/digital ones, it’s not as robust as hoped, leading many in Vegas to believe that, if the FCC does authorize the use of all-digital AM-HD this year, it’ll be for the daytime only. Read More

Still Waiting for the HD Payday

There’s been a slew of news about HD Radio uptake, but as usual, not a lot of meat on the bones. Rather, it’s the continuation of a yearly practice of demonstrating signs of life. These are designed not so much for the radio industry or listening public as much as they are for investors waiting to see a return for subsidizing the system’s development and promotion. 15 years on from the founding of iBiquity Digital Corporation, they’re still waiting.

The most notable announcement is the (re)launch of an advertising camapaign to agitate listener interest in radio-via-smartphones. It’s based primarily around NextRadio, the Emmis-developed FM receiver application available on select Android devices. Until last month, the “Free Radio on My Phone” campaign generally advocated the benefits of having an FM chip enabled on mobile devices, but the new iteration directly promotes NextRadio itself, according to the campaign materials available online. Read More

Patent Troll Suffers Setback in HD Lawsuits

A judge in Delaware’s federal District Court has put the brakes on a patent troll’s carpetbombing of the radio industry. For those just tuning in, some ambiguous firms in Delaware acquired some old AT&T patents that vaguely describe digital data transmission. Armed with these, the firms filed a slew of lawsuits in 2013 against broadcasters who’ve deployed HD Radio technology, claiminng that the system infringes on their intellectual property.

iBiquity Digital Corporation, HD’s proprietor, filed a counterclaim last year seeking the dismissal of the trolls’ crusade and the voiding of its patent claims. If the trolls want to bilk anybody, iBiquity is the logical target, as it controls all of its intellectual property with a firm hand. Furthermore, the station’s license agreement with broadcasters indemnifies stations against such claims. Read More