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HD Radio Traffic Gets Market Debut

HD Radio is no longer just for music. At International CES, the technology officially becomes a data-delivery service for traffic reports, as will be offered on several market-ready GPS devices here.

JVC, Nextar and Cydle are shipping, or will ship this year, products with the new service that delivers faster and more comprehensive traffic reports, even on some side roads, according to HD Radio developer iBiquity.

HD Radio traffic issues updates about every 10 seconds vs. every two or three minutes, a difference that can be critical if a driver must quickly decide to take an upcoming exit, said iBiquity.

Another benefit is that HD Radio traffic provides traffic-flow data, not just accident reports, so users can gauge how fast traffic is moving, said iBiquity.

HD Radios transmits at a bandwidth of up to 148kbps, of which broadcasters typically allocate 1kpbs to 32kbps for traffic, said iBiquity. This compares with a data pipe significantly less than 300bps for the traffic reports commonly delivered over FM data services, said industry members.

“TMC [traffic over FM RDS] is limited to the number of messages it can deliver in any three-minute period. So the service provider has to prioritize the 90 messages available. So there’s some filtering,” said Joe D’Angelo, advanced services senior VP for iBiquity.

JVC is showing one of the first market-ready in-dash navigation devices with HD Radio traffic, the KW-NT3HDT. It also delivers free weather and fuel-price updates over HD Radio and may offer sports scores and movie schedules in the future, said Chad Vogelsong, general manager of marketing.

The KW-NT3HDT also has a DVD drive and offers built-in HD Radio with iTunes tagging, Bluetooth with stereo audio streaming, and Bluetooth Phone Book Access Profile (PBAP) to stream names from a cellphone’s phone book. Shipping is expected in March at a price to be announced.

Nextar is also offering a 4.3-inch portable navigation device (PND) with traffic and other updates over HD Radio, to ship in the second half at a price to be announced. It will also provide weather updates and speed-camera warnings, gas price listings and historic traffic information.

Cydle America. recently launched a T43H PND with a built-in HD Radio receiver for both HD Radio broadcasts and free, live traffic updates at $299.