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NRSC Temporarily Suspends IBOC Standards

New York – The National Radio Systems Committee (NRSC) temporarily suspended standard setting efforts for iBiquity’s digital AM/FM radio technology, citing problems with the sound quality of the IBOC (in-band on-channel) technology’s audio codec on the AM band.

iBiquity said it is working on a software upgrade that it will deliver ‘as soon as possible.’

The company stressed that the technology’s coverage, reception, FM sound quality, and other functionality aren’t at issue but that the delay could affects previously announced plans by a handful of suppliers – Kenwood, Audiovox, and Harman Kardon – to ship receivers this year.

iBiquity senior VP Jeff Jury contended that the issue would be resolved quickly and that the delay won’t be long enough to prevent 2004 receiver introductions.

Kenwood senior VP Bob Law said some AM broadcasters have complained of digital artifacts, such as ringing and edginess in some circumstances.

These artifacts weren’t noticed until AM test receivers became available in recent months for field testing, said iBiquity’s Jury.

Test FM receivers have been available for about two years, he said.

Broadcast equipment rollouts will continue, Jury said, because the sound quality issue can be accomplished with a software upgrade of a station’s compressed-audio encoder.

The upgrade could either tweak the stations’ PAC compressed-audio encoder or completely change the encoder to use another compressed technology such as AAC.

If a PAC upgrade is approved, Kenwood’s Law said, a Kenwood car tuner planned for commercial introduction in August won’t have to be delayed.

If the codec is changed to a completely different codec, however, new receiver hardware will be required, postponing Kenwood’s car audio shipments until the following year.