Digital Radio

In the United States, iBiquity’s proprietary and bandwidth wasting HD-Radio is the only digital radio format approved by the FCC for digital radio broadcasting on AM and FM.

Outside the US, Digital Radio Mondaile (DRM) and Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) are widely used.  Both systems are open rather than proprietary. Manufacturers of receivers and transmitting equipment don’t have to pay license fees to enable their equipment to receive DRM or DMB which means the equipment is less expensive for consumers to buy.

Digital Radio Mondaile works in a 9Khz bandwidth rather than the 30Khz required by HD-Radio, which destroys two adjacent channels.  Thus it is possible to operate three DRM stations in the same spectrum as one HD-Radio could operate in while providing superior audio quality.

The main disadvantage is that you don’t have an analog signal, you need a DRM equipped receiver to receive a DRM signal.

The FCC should drop HD-Radio because of the adjacent channel interference issue and because it’s not proper to give a licensing monopoly to one company, and because it is not making efficient use of available spectrum.  The FCC should open up the market to DRM and DMB and let the chips fall where they may.

Because both DRM and DMB are going to use digital signal processors to decode them and only the software will be different, and because both are open standards, it would be trivial for a receiver manufacturer to offer receivers that can decode both. Because the additional license fees wouldn’t be built into the cost of the receiver, adoption would likely be more rapid.

If the real reason the FCC adopted iBiquity’s HD-Radio as “the standard” was to maintain compatibility with existing receivers, then the FCC would not have adopted the standard for television which obsoleted millions of televisions.

The FCC dictating one standard while the rest of the world uses another guarantees US citizens won’t have direct access to foreign broadcasts.  Instead, our information can be carefully filtered to comply with what the US government wants it’s citizens to see and hear.

For that reason alone, we should have a world standard, not one standard for North America, another for the rest of the world.  The 3x better use of spectrum favors DRM over HD-Radio as does the superior audio quality.  The lower cost to consumers favors DRM.

I’d like to encourage people to write to your congress critters to force the issue with the FCC.