FCC Bureau OKs HD Radio Power Boost

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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


worked out by iBiquity and NPR.


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