Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Quadcast it's four times better?

Digital radio across the world is a 'buggers muddle.'  The overwhelming attitude most countries have to providing a digital radio service is apathy.  The reason? FM and AM radio work so well, have a massive market penetration in terms of sets owned.  And FM/AM radio is still the standard radio you will find in every car throughout the world.

Here in Europe and odd places throughout the world including Canada and Hong Kong we have DAB radio, the Americans have a thing called HD radio which sort of piggy-backs the existing FM or AM frequency, listeners who have bought the special radio sets to receive the service have complained of poor signal strength, the sets are expensive to buy and the extra programming disappointing (mmm spotting a DAB similarity going on here)

Well this week CBS radio launched a Quadcast with Washington DC station WJFK-FM. Quadcast is their sexy name for sticking 4 HD Radio channels on one frequency.  (To me Quadcast sounds like a lawnmower company) Anyway what kind of diverse programming are they offering? Four sports-talk stations each one from different parts of the US - wow that's really going to broaden choice.

With different standards, consumer and country apathy digital radio has none of the razzmatazz of HD digital delivered TV. I wonder if digital radio should just go away lick its wounds and come back with a better world-wide system that delivers - more choice, better quality, robust signal and cheap low power chips that make the devices cheaper and less power hungry - hang on a minute isn't that mobile phone technology already?

If you want to know more about HD radio click here


guylaine l'heureux (chagota) said...

Unfortunately, DAB in Canada is pretty much dead.
«The Canadian government has published a consultation that proposes to re-allocate radio spectrum previously used for DAB radio to fixed and mobile wireless devices. The consultation document narrates the story of the failure of DAB radio in Canada.»

James Cridland said...

"With different standards, consumer and country apathy digital radio has none of the razzmatazz of HD digital delivered TV."

Um. That'll be the standard that's different in the US than in Australia, different in Australia than the UK, different in the UK than in Japan, and non-existent in Thailand. That standard? (grin)

Having said that, mobile internet can't scale to deliver broadcast radio (17.8 million people listen to the radio at the same time during the breakfast peak). The future's clearly broadcast, at least for mass-market radio services. The question is whether we can get away with using FM. I think, with RadioDNS augmentation technology, that mightn't be completely impossible.

Steve Campen said...

Yes James I agree with everything you say particularly if everyone used their mobile to listen to streamed radio at the same time - wow what a bottle-neck. And I wonder if eventually DAB will suffer the Canadian experience and die on its arse?

Anonymous said...

@James Cridland:

"Does radio need to worry about IP-delivered audio?"

"Back in September, Radio World published a column titled 'The Problem Isn’t Demand, It’s Bandwidth' by veteran broadcast engineer, Frank McCoy. The title was a bit of a non sequitur, because of course if there was no demand, bandwidth wouldn’t be a problem... He arrives at this 'comforting' conclusion by comparing the bandwidth required by IP audio streams in a real-world situation vs. available bandwidth, finding that IP audio just won’t scale up enough to be a threat to radio broadcasters. The exercise is interesting, but it would be a mistake for us to draw much comfort in it – at least if your goal is to stop worrying about other platforms. Here’s why."

"FCC Chairman says spectrum crisis imminent"

"Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that the agency would undertake suitable measures to trounce the intimidating wireless shortage, imminent from the ever-increasing number of smartphones and other wireless devices. Noting that more bandwidth needs to be provided for mobile devices if a looming spectrum crisis has to be averted, Genachowski said that the government intends bringing about a three-fold increase in the amount of spectrum for commercial uses."

You would be wrong about that - Struble has falsely claimed the same thing. 4G LTE is being rolled out by Verizon, and will be by other providers, giving a 100x increase in bandwidth. Plus, our FCC has promised a 3x increase in wireless bandwidth, if needed.