Kenwood has become the first CE manufacturer to commit to developing terrestrial digital audio radio (DAR) receivers for sale in the United States.
The company signed a technology and marketing agreement with USA Digital Radio (USADR), which plans summertime field tests of an in-band/on-channel (IBOC) technology that lets AM and FM broadcasters use their existing frequencies to deliver digital programming.
USADR is majority-owned by radio networks operating 1,600 AM and FM stations. Its technology is incompatible with a rival IBOC technology developed by Lucent, which hasn't yet announced technology agreements with CE makers.
USADR president Robert Struble believes the FCC, in a planned rulemaking proposal due sometime this summer, will seek lab- and field-test results of the competing formats by the end of the year. He hopes the FCC will then choose a single standard for terrestrial DAR.
Once that happens, he said, "In the late third quarter or early fourth quarter of 2000, we expect stations to put IBOC on the air, and in the first quarter of 2001, receivers will be ready for purchase."
The USADR-Kenwood agreement will enable engineers from the respective companies to work together to develop aftermarket car and home receivers. "On the marketing side, we'll work together to build consumer demand and work with retailers," Struble said.
Next month, USADR will open up talks with retailers to prepare them for the technolgy's launch.