HD Radio Returns to Canada

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HD Radio Returns to Canada

Postby jon » Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:36 pm

In what is believed to be Canada's first IBOC-based HD Radio station, a fair number of Toronto area folks with HD Radios have reported that Corus' Vinyl-FM (CING) in Hamilton has quietly begun broadcasting a much higher audio quality signal using HD IBOC technology. As of yet, no word from either the CRTC or Industry Canada, as licensing is required.

Unlike FM, where additional audio channels (SCMO) are only available with special receivers or multiplexor attachments, HD radios can receive alternate audio channels. Six years ago when the CRTC opened the door to IBOC, my reading of the announcement is that they also opened the door to the use of these additional audio channels, normally known as HD2, etc.

Informal discussions have brought forward the idea that HD2 could be the saviour of AM radio. Were simulcasting of AM allowed on an HD2 channel of an FM owned by the same company, that would provide an excellent alternative to nested FM repeaters for covering downtown and other areas with tall buildings.

Of course, it is a tough road to hoe, getting HD radios into a majority of Canadian hands, at least in urban areas. I suspect that it would have to start with car manufacturers including HD in all FM radios.

What do you think? Is it too late?
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Re: HD Radio Returns to Canada

Postby CKNF » Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:53 pm

No, I don’t think it’s too late. The transition to digital has to happen at some point eventually and if the regulators step in and mandate that all receivers sold in North America have a digital tuner in them, then adoption will occur. In my opinion that is the only way. I’m not sure if it can fix radio itself, but at least these receivers would end up in more hands than if it were just left up to the consumer. Because, we already know how well that played out.

After all, that’s pretty much how it works in TV. A standard is chosen and then like what we all saw in 2009 and 2011, there is a mandated cutover date. Only, the nice thing with radio using IBOC is that it will still allow for the analogue signals to be kept going (for the time being) not rendering the analogue tuner obsolete right away.

I believe that if terrestrial radio is to survive long into the future serving generations to come, it must follow the same technological progression as all other forms of media. Not because they can’t make tuners small enough with decent reception or because of Apple not putting FM tuners in iPhones or any reason like that, but simply because anything analogue will eventually fall by the wayside in relevancy, being viewed as old and cumbersome. Also, as time goes on and energy costs continue to rise, the pressure to move towards more efficient technologies will eventually squeeze our old friend AM/FM, as we know it today, out.

The only thing I’m not 100% clear of is iBiquity’s fee structure and how much of a hindrance or resistance there will be because of that. Perhaps an expert can comment on this? How did it work for C-QUAM exactly?
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