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post #1 of 8 Old 03-22-2019, 07:35 AM - Thread Starter
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NAB: Increase in HD Radio deployment coming

HD Radio
David Layer, NAB: "We are on the verge of a dramatic increase of Hybrid Radio deployment, primarily in automobiles."
Radio Rally Point was created by DMR/Interactive and All Access to shine a spotlight on the power of AM/FM radio. In this edition, DMR/Interactive Pres Andrew Curran catches up with NAB VP/Advanced Engineering David Layer.
All Access - March 21, 2019

The NAB is associated with lobbying and serving as the collective voice of broadcasters, but there’s also an important component of technical development and innovation, especially with Hybrid Radio. What’s NAB’s role in this space?
David: NAB's Technology department is, not surprisingly, the technical hub of the association. We pursue technology on a number of fronts:

● Technical standards setting - On the radio front, NAB is a co-sponsor of the National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) along with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). The NRSC's purpose is to study and make recommendations for technical standards that relate to radio broadcasting and the reception of radio broadcast signals. The NRSC is a vehicle by which broadcasters and receiver manufacturers work together towards solutions to common problems in radio broadcast systems.

One of the most notable documents developed by the NRSC is NRSC-5, IBOC Digital Radio Broadcasting Standard, which describes the HD Radio digital radio system adopted in the U.S.

Two other radio-related standards setting groups that NAB is involved in are the RDS Forum, which maintains the Radio Data System (RDS) digital subcarrier standard; the RDS signal is transmitted as part of analog FM signals, providing metadata (typically song title and artist) for radio receiver displays. NAB is also a member of RadioDNS, an organization which is dedicated to enabling hybrid (over-the-air plus Internet) radio services in radio receivers. At the most recent meeting of the RadioDNS General Assembly, I was elected chair of the RadioDNS Steering Board for the next two years (2019-2020), and I am looking forward to becoming even more involved with the operation and accomplishments of this group.

● PILOT - the Technology department manages PILOT (formerly NAB Labs), a coalition of innovators, educators and advocates dedicated to advancing broadcast technologies and cultivating new media opportunities. PILOT is bringing broadcasters together with new media companies such as Google and Facebook to explore how these companies can build on each other's strengths and enable new and exciting services for viewers and listeners. PILOT funds technology development projects including the development of an FM Radio Software Development Kit (SDK) for Android devices to help advance the use of FM radio in smartphones that have an enabled “FM chip,” as well as laboratory and field testing of all-digital AM and FM radio (using the HD Radio IBOC system).

● NAB Show conferences - it is the role of the Technology department to develop technically-oriented conferences for NAB's many industry shows, for example, the Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology Conference (BEITC), one of the world's leading broadcast-oriented conferences.

● Education and outreach - NAB Technology staff members are regular presenters at broadcast technology conferences worldwide as well as at the many state broadcaster association meetings held throughout the US.

In the 1980s, radios with cassette players were common place. In the 1990s, it was radios with a CD player. However, as music collections have been digitized, radios with Internet devices haven't found the same traction. How does the NAB’s efforts with Hybrid Radio seek to change that reality, especially as Voice Command continues to grow in popularity?
David: As music collections have moved from cassettes to CDs to digital methods including mp3 players (like the iPod) and now streaming, radio receivers have indeed followed along and with Hybrid Radio technology, will continue to do so. Right now, we are on the verge of a dramatic increase of Hybrid Radio deployment, primarily in automobiles, and this is closely following the increase of built-in internet connectivity in vehicles.

NAB is heavily involved in the development and proliferation of Hybrid Radio on many fronts. There's our involvement in RadioDNS which I mentioned previously, one of the main proponents of Hybrid Radio and a foundational technology. NAB is pursuing an auto initiative, reaching out to and working with automakers and so-called “tier 1” manufacturers (who actually make the car infotainment systems) to ensure that Hybrid Radio is deployed in an intelligent way that benefits all parties – automakers, broadcasters, and listeners. We are very excited about the “In-vehicle experience” pavilion which will be debuting at this year's NAB Show, sure to highlight developments in Hybrid Radio and generate interest with our broadcaster attendees, while at the same time providing additional ways for automakers and broadcasters to interact and work together.

One specific example of NAB's involvement in Hybrid Radio is the ongoing PILOT Connected Radio Evaluation Unit (CREU) project. Connected Radio is a Hybrid Radio platform being develop by Xperi Corporation; working with Xperi, we have obtained the same CREU device that automakers use to develop Hybrid Radio platforms using Connected Radio technology. Our goal in doing this is to identify use cases and features that are of particular interest to broadcasters and then bring these back to Xperi and to automakers and work to get these features implemented in vehicles.

Regarding voice command, NAB certainly recognizes the potential, and inevitability, of voice command technology for accessing radio. Of course, it's already arrived in smart speakers, and broadcasters have been working hard to make sure that their stations are easily accessed in these devices. Working with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), PILOT developed a prototype voice-controlled radio which takes a voice-command request for radio and determines whether the requested station is available as an over-the-air broadcast, and if so, plays that over-the-air signal instead of an audio stream. The process that is used to achieve this is illustrated in the figure below. We have made the source code used to achieve this available free-of-charge (https://github.com/NABPILOT/Voice-Controlled-Radio) to any interested manufacturer, and we hope that this will accelerate the interest in using voice control for radio.

Overview of Voice-Controlled Radio Prototype



Obviously, the brilliance of the broadcast business model, which allows stations to drastically increase their audience without a corresponding increase in costs, has not been replicated with streaming. How does the science of hybrid build on previous innovations such as HD and Next Radio?
David: NextRadio was an amazing implementation of Hybrid Radio for Android smartphones with an enabled FM chip. Xperi, developers of HD Radio, are also at the forefront of Hybrid Radio technology with their Connected Radio platform. These platforms are excellent examples of how over-the-air and Internet with audio streaming can enhance the radio listening experience.

Obviously, automotive is an important category where radio dominates consumption. How are the Hybrid Radio conversations going with car makers?
David: Automakers are very interested in Hybrid Radio. Audi released the first Hybrid Radio in a vehicle last year in Europe and is expected to bring Hybrid Radio technology to their U.S. models soon. Xperi has indicated that they will be making an announcement soon regarding the use of their Connected Radio platform by an automaker, and we are very excited about the prospect of that announcement.

Does the NAB have a timeline for the wider rollout of Hybrid Radio?
David: For automobiles, this ultimately depends on the automakers, and it's common knowledge that autos have a fairly long concept-to-production cycle, measured in years. Recognizing this, NAB has put significant resources and a heavy emphasis on its auto initiative and its outreach to automakers, to make sure they are aware of the benefits of Hybrid Radio and will hopefully implement them sooner rather than later.

For stations and organizations looking to learn more about Hybrid Radio and the open source code you’re making available, what resources would you point them to?
David: The voice-controlled radio source code is available at https://github.com/NABPILOT/Voice-Controlled-Radio. Other great Hybrid Radio resources include https://radiodns.org and https://nabpilot.org/work/pilot-fm-radio-sdk/.

Have a suggestion for someone you'd like to see featured in Radio Rally Point? Email your suggestion to DMR/Interactive.

Thanks for reading and working each day to drive radio forward.

https://www.allaccess.com/radio-rall...the-verge-of-a

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post #2 of 8 Old 03-23-2019, 04:10 PM
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This all sounds interesting but there seems to be a disconnect between what the industry wants to push and what consumers really want. Here we have a proposed system designed to piggyback streaming on top of conventional radio stations which makes no sense. If your presets can pull up the stream why even bother with the terrestrial? That's just asking for sync errors and will make an increasingly complex entertainment system even more confusing. If you've rented a car lately, you've probably noticed how many hoops you have to jump through just to tune a radio station.

The features I really want in my dash are local AM/FM radio (maybe with HD radio capability) and Android/Apple Auto support. With that, I can stream music to the system and Waze navigation to the screen from my phone, which of course is already configured perfectly to my liking. Simple and done. But I suppose the radio industry is desperate to try to stop that because people have so many commercial-free radio alternatives on their phones.
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post #3 of 8 Old 03-24-2019, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnivore View Post
Here we have a proposed system designed to piggyback streaming on top of conventional radio stations which makes no sense.
Maybe I read it differently, but it appears designed to save user data when possible. Not everybody has unlimited data. Here in Tampa, many of iHeart's streaming-only channels are also on HD subchannels as well as just about every AM in town. It would be nice to tell Alexa "Ask iHeart to play 970 WFLA" and have her automatically go to the FM subchannel simulcasting WFLA rather than the data-eating stream.

Another annoying thing is the time delay between streaming and live. I'm frequently getting scoring alerts on my phone several minutes ahead of the game stream I'm listening to. And, as long as we're talking sports, most radio stations can't stream live sports coverage. Ask Alexa to stream WFLA during a Bolts game and you're likely to get a replay of a local talk show, instead. If Alexa could access the HD Radio subchannel WFLA's on, you'd get the game.

Alexa also has a habit of - not sure what to call it - dropping back. I'll hear the previous 15 minutes of a stream all over, again. I can imagine someone starting off their day listening to the stream of a local morning show only to discover the time checks are 30 minutes off and they're now very late to work.

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post #4 of 8 Old 03-24-2019, 12:41 PM
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Perhaps I was over interpreting the line that talks about RadioDNS being an organization dedicated to enabling hybrid (over-the-air plus Internet) radio services in radio receivers. I read that as if the objective is to auto-transition between OTA and streaming which isn't exactly what he says, I guess. The article is very wordy, padded with a lot of buzzword fluff and not the easiest to follow.

Tuning an OTA station by voice command seems like a useful feature. It will be interesting to see what else this trade group comes up with. Ironically the spokesman points to HD Radio and supporting FM chips in smartphones as his division's great accomplishments, when in reality neither of those things has gotten any traction on a critical mass scale.

Last edited by Carnivore; 03-24-2019 at 12:46 PM.
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Nor will they get any traction. Especially when streaming works better on a phone than OTA. Ditto the drive to put ATSC 3.0 TV tuners in phones.

HDRadio suffers from a promotion paradox. Put exclusive programming on subchannels and hammer the heck out of it on the main and you could drive adoption. Program directors, IMO, are afraid to drive listeners away from their main channel, so they won't promote the subs. Meanwhile, the very programming they could have used has landed on streaming services which DO promote what they have and have driven adoption. Boat missed.

I've seen some successful uses of subchannels and am continually surprised when I hear one "in the wild." Used to happen in Detroit, which doesn't have anything Spanish on FM. So, we stuck a Spanish format on an HD3 and it started to show up. I'd hear it at stop lights and filling stations. Couldn't sell it, so it went away.

Seems its best use will be better quality sound for traditional FMs with some commercial-free or AM offerings for those willing to fiddle with the radios.

Another thing that amazes me is the lack of data on HDRadio. On some, you'll get album art along with title/artist. On most, you don't even get that. And the capabilities are huge. Headlines, weather radar, song trivia, etc. Heck, I'd be happy with the score of the game I'm listening to (though I realize the reason that doesn't happen has nothing to do with the technology).

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post #6 of 8 Old 03-31-2019, 07:44 AM
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NAB: Increase In HD Radio Deployment Coming

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carnivore View Post
This all sounds interesting but there seems to be a disconnect between what the industry wants to push and what consumers really want...The features I really want in my dash are local AM/FM radio (maybe with HD radio capability) and Android/Apple Auto support. With that, I can stream music to the system and Waze navigation to the screen from my phone, which of course is already configured perfectly to my liking. Simple and done. But I suppose the radio industry is desperate to try to stop that because people have so many commercial-free radio alternatives on their phones.
As an end user, when HD radio was released and I finally bought one, I thought it was pretty nice. You had the FM subs carrying the AM content. One of the local broadcasters carried comedy on one of their sub-channels. Cell phone data was expensive and limited, at least for me at the time.

Fast forward to today and free or inexpensive content choices are much more plentiful. Cell phone data for me is unlimited at a more affordable price.

We are slightly "old school" in that my wife really like Sirius XM satellite radio in her vehicle. At $5 per month, I will pay it to keep her happy.

I still like a Garmin GPS on the dash. IT is hard to fully explain, but it just works. I fully realize that I will check and use Google maps in certain situations. Part of it is I want the device to continue navigating even if I get a phone call. I have used "all-in-one" solutions where my phone was streaming audio, navigating and then I get a phone call. I can get by with it, but I just prefer a traditional GPS on the dash going its "one trick pony" routine!
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post #7 of 8 Old 03-31-2019, 08:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim1348 View Post
We are slightly "old school" in that my wife really like Sirius XM satellite radio in her vehicle. At $5 per month, I will pay it to keep her happy.
We dropped my wife's car from SXM since she doesn't drive it that much. It's also getting on in years, otherwise I'd swap out the factory radio for an HD just because of the local AMs being on HD subs. That said, after we punted XM from her car, when she DOES drive it, she uses the XM App. Surprise.. the sound quality from streaming XM is waaay better than the satellite and it doesn't go away under bridges or near cell towers, anymore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim1348 View Post
I still like a Garmin GPS on the dash. IT is hard to fully explain, but it just works. I fully realize that I will check and use Google maps in certain situations.
Try Waze, sometime. Being crowdsourced, it reacts to accidents far more quickly. I'll run both, but if Waze inexplicably takes me off of the freeway and the in-dash doesn't, I follow Waze. The accident data will eventually get to the in-dash, but often too late to avoid a huge backup.

Plus, the Garmin won't tell you where the cops are hiding.

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post #8 of 8 Old 04-09-2019, 06:57 PM
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As one who has only recently gained the ability to listen to HD radio, I hope the NAB succeeds in whatever endeavors it engages that would increase HD radio broadcasts (OTA). While I do stream Pandora occasionally through my helmet system when on the motorcycle, in general I both dislike and cannot afford to stream programming very much. OTA broadcast is the goodness for me.

In Phoenix metro, there is some unique programming on HD alt channels that I really like, and at least the NPR affiliate here seems to broadcast their HD2 music at good quality levels. There is a station here with HD alt programming I like, but it is difficult to listen to except on my mono-only office radio, because the sound quality is as bad as, or worse than, mediocre streaming audio.
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