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Faster HD Radio Traffic Service Passes Test

San Antonio — Clear Channel and BMW successfully tested a new algorithm that will enable Clear Channel to accelerate its traffic-data service over HD Radio stations.

Clear Channel will offer the speedier service sometime later this year.

By mating a new algorithm with HD Radio, Clear Channel radio stations could transmit a greater volume of data at higher speeds, delivering “current and predicted traffic patterns, speeds and flows almost instantaneously,” the companies said. This increased performance would enable Clear Channel to expand its traffic service to include traffic-flow predictions and more precise location referencing, the companies added.

In a proof-of-concept exercise, BMW equipped a BMW 5 Series with custom hardware and software, including an HD Radio data tuner, and drove it throughout the Philadelphia metro area. The more efficient TPEG/TFP encoding protocol made it possible to transmit rush-hour traffic information for the entire metro area in just 14 seconds using only 52 messages.

Clear Channel began transmitting traffic data via HD Radio in 48 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas in 2007, but the first device capable of receiving the service — a Dual-brand portable naviation device — wasn’t announced until early this year. Clear Channel’s traffic service is currently available in 50 markets via analog FM and HD Radio channels.

Clear Channel’s current HD Radio traffic service already accelerates transmission rates over Clear Channel’s RDS-based analog-FM service. The HD Radio service refreshes information more frequently and includes more information than standard RDS-based traffic reports, the company said. The wider HD Radio pipe can deliver 500 incident reports to the device per minute compared to RDS, which can deliver only about 50 incidents per minute, HD Radio developer iBiquity added.

ClearChannel said the new digital traffic service will be four times faster than the current digital-traffic service and 10 times faster than its RDS service. The radio chain will continue to broadcast in all three formats to service PNDs and navigation systems that incorporate the older standards.

Clear Channel Radio delivers data to more than 500,000 users in four countries.