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iBiquity Proposes Immediate Power-Up For HD Radio Signals

WASHINGTON -- July 7, 2009: In comments filed with the FCC in its proceeding on whether to allow HD Radio signals to be upgraded to 10 percent of a station's analog power, HD developer iBiquity Digital says the current limit is "unnecessarily conservative." and has the "unintended consequence of delaying the broader adoption of HD Radio technology, thereby having a detrimental effect on the existing commercial FM radio industry."

iBiquity would like to see the FCC immediately authorize an "intermediate" power increase to 6 percent of analog power and "work toward authorization of a full 10 dB increase" after a current test program by NPR is completed.

iBiquity says it doesn't agree with the results of an earlier NPR study on the issue, saying in its comments that NPR's report was "based on certain worst case assumptions that cannot be relied upon," including an assumption that all current HD stations will want to power up. NPR is now conducting a new test program,and iBiquity says it's working with NPR on that test, as are commercial broadcasters that are providing resources in support.

With a year having passed since the original request for a power increase, iBiquity says "regulatory uncertainty" has "made it more difficult for FM broadcaster to upgrade to HD Radio broadcasting because they cannot make an informed decision about investments in transmission equipment." It also notes that the upcoming introduction of portable HD Radio products, including the Microsoft Zune HD, "has greatly increased the urgency for commission action on this issue."

Although iBiquity would like to ultimately see the FCC authorize the proposed 10 dB power increase, it says the proposed intermediate increase is "attainable for many FM broadcasters with existing transmission equipment" and "can be put in place relatively quickly in numerous cases."

The filing continues, "An intermediate power increase also will give the commission and the industry real-world experience on the true impact of a power increase and the potential improvements that can be realized at higher power. Finally, an intermediate power increase will signal to automobile and receiver manufacturers that power increases will be approved and products can be planned with an expectation of better HD Radio coverage."

iBiquity points to a test done with Greater Media that, it says, demonstrates that the smaller power boost "provides broadcasters with a significant improvement in coverage that comes much closer to replicating analog coverage for mobile users."

iBiquity also urges the FCC not to wait on the NPR test to make a decision on its proposal, saying that, although NPR has said it intends to finish the tests by the end of the summer, iBiquity, as a participant in the tests, sees it as "extremely unlikely" that a report can be made before the fall. With the rest of the process -- public comment and reply comments and the draft of a final order -- iBiquity says waiting on the NPR test would mean another "very lengthy delay" in any power boost for HD signals.

Read the full filing here.

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