Sunday 7 September 2014

HD Radio On Trial in Norway

All-digital mode gives unexpected range of reach. Challenge to DAB+ and DRM+
An up to day successful trial with the U.S. digital radio technology HD Radio (IBOC) has started in Oslo managed by the Norwegian Local Radio Association (NLR). The station is Radio Nero on 98,7 MHz.

In contrary to the standard setup for HD Radio in the U.S. with the main channel in both analogue and digital mode this transmission is all-digital. Because of this the range of reach - with no signal loss - is surprisingly good even with this 100 watt transmitter in Oslo.

Eivind Engberg, project manager, says that HD Radio will provide a cost efficient and simple solution. Svein Larsen, chair of the NLR, regard this as a good choice for local radio. Engberg, who also made DRM+ trial on a Trondheim FM frequency 2013, says that the advantage with HD Radio is the easy installation and the extreme range of reach. Also there are receivers on some markets especially in-car radios with DAB+ and HD Radio combined.

Norway is the country with the fastest planned transition to digital. Already 2017 is the schedule set for an FM switch-off. However, this has met fierce resistance from local radio as DAB+ is not an appropriate system for local broadcasting because of transmission structure and high costs.

The trials are set up in cooperation with the two American companies HD Radio iBiquity Digital Corp and the transmitter manufacturer Nautel.

Some background:
The HD Radio system as well as DRM system utilize the established mediumwave and FM bands (150 kHz to 108 MHz) while the DAB system is using the VHF Band III (200 MHz) which is shared by television broadcasting.

HD Radio is a well established system in the U.S. and Mexico with some listeners also in Canada. However the system is on an uphill battle on most foreign markets. Some years ago there were trials with HD Radio in some European countries as Germany and Switzerland. But HD Radio has not yet been put into regular operation anywhere in Europe. According to iBiquity Corp there are more stations in the world using this technology than DAB and DRM combined. However, terrestrial digital radio systems have not yet been successful anywhere in the world with analogue FM still dominating in all 200 countries.

It has been reported that HD Radio do not share the same trouble as DAB/DAB+ and DRM+ with networks going down on circuit breaks.  Last week BBC was hit by several DAB transmitters shutting down and each had to be manually restarted.

Also read
Norway Might Reconsider FM Radio Closure
DAB+ Not the Future For Small-Scale Broadcasters