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FCC Bureau OKs HD Radio Power Boost

1/29/2010 04:29:00 PM Eastern

Washington D.C. -Digital FM radio
stations will be able to boost digital-signal power output by up to 10dB to 10
percent of analog power levels to increase digital-signal range an improve
in-building penetration, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) bureau ruled.

"These rule changes will
substantially boost digital signal coverage while safeguarding analog reception
against interference from higher power digital transmissions," the bureau said.

In a past filing with the FCC, HD
Radio developer iBiquity Digital said
automakers and receiver manufacturers have expressed "concern about digital
coverage and consumer reactions to products that may not have the same coverage
as analog radio receivers." These issues "continue to provide impediments to
the successful rollout of HD Radio broadcasting."

Currently, HD Radio stations
broadcast a digital signal whose output level is only 1 percent of authorized
analog-signal output.

The bureau said its decision will:

·        
permit most FM
stations to immediately increase digital power by up to 6dB to 4 percent of
authorized analog-signal output, or a four-fold increase.

·        
establish
application procedures by which stations can petition for a power increases up
to 10dB to 10 percent of authorized analog output.

·        
establish
interference remediation procedures to resolve complaints about interference
with the analog signals of first-adjacent stations, or those operating on an adjacent frequency in
nearby but somewhat-distant markets. The bureau is required to resolve each dispute
or impose tiered power reductions within 90 days.

·        
limit power
increases for so-called super-powered stations currently licensed in excess of
class maximums.

·        
and reserve the
right to revisit the issue of digital power levels if significant interference
to analog reception results.

With a power boost to 4 percent of
analog strength, public-radio group NPR has stated, an FM station's digital
stereo signal would exceed the range of its analog FM stereo signal and would
be comparable to the range of "a good listenable mono analog signal," whose
range exceeds the range of an analog stereo signal. At the maximum output level
of 1 percent of analog output, NPR has said, digital FM stereo signals cover
only about 89 percent of the footprint of an analog FM stereo signal.

Robert
Struble, iBiquity's president and CEO, said he was pleased with the decision.
"The commission has worked closely with the radio broadcast industry on this
item and chose a prudent course for the power increase which met the needs and
addressed the concerns of the key constituents," he said.

The
FCC, he noted, "relies heavily" on a compromise worked out by
iBiquity and NPR.

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