Giving HD Radio a Boost?



HD Radio uses only one percent of its possible broadcast power, an issue that can cause reception problems when listening indoors. As those of you who follow the issue are aware, a massive NPR Labs study, released in July 2008, determined that increasing HD broadcast power would interfere with analog FM signals. Now the news is in from Washington, D.C., that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is beginning a new study with an eye towards fixing the problem.

The CPB study is aimed at finding ways to improve the HD coverage without producing interference on the FM band.

Amy Gilroy, a senior writer for This Week In Consumer Electronics, a.k.a. TWICE, last week stirred some interesting commentary with this report on the project:

The CPB announced that NPR Labs will conduct the $350,000 study to determine how to boost HD Radio reception so the signal may be stronger indoors for home radio products. […] The new study on how to better manage an HD Radio power increase is expected to be completed by the end of the summer in time for the National Association of Broadcaster’s (NAB) Show in Philadelphia in September.

Now I’m not sure if I’ll make NAB this year, but I’m sure going to try. If I do I’ll be Tweeting the research results as they are announced (yes, radio2020 is on Twitter. Come follow us.) In the meantime we can only wish them success in their research.

If a way can be found to pump up the power on HD from 1% to 10% it would have fantastic ramifications across the board for this relatively new technology.  As someone who has developed a fondness for the multichannel content stations on HD, I am excited to see what the CPB is able to find.

Once we have the results of the study in hand what’s the next step?

“There’s a great deal of motivation on the part of everyone in the radio industry to solve this problem. I know, once the study is concluded, the desire would be to go the FCC as quickly as possible with a widely supported industry recommendation,” said the NPR spokeswoman.

I look forward to writing about that when it occurs!

Photo courtesy of James Cridland, used under ts Creative Commons license


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