Thursday, March 30, 2006

Over the Air HD is here

Over the Air HD radio has arrived (well almost). Clear Channel is clearly the company leading the movement to bring Over the Air radio into the Digital Age, starting its HD rollout in most major markets.

Just as TV is entering the digital age, radio is now on the edge of the digital age for many of the same reasons:
  • CD quality sound without needing new frequencies or additional bandwidth
  • Better reception with lower power requirements
  • Possibility of programming multiple channels with a single frequency allocation
  • Competition from unlicensed sources (satellite, internet radio)

Back in the 1980s, the radio industry tried to "Save" AM radio by rolling out AM Stereo, but most of the early adopter stations were Talk or News Stations for which Stereo offered no tangible benefit, other than perhaps better reception to the few people that had AM stereo receivers.

Will HD radio (AM and FM) be the magic pill that saves over the air radio, or is it too little too late? What will it take to achieve critical mass? Was the decision to not allocate new digital spectrum but rather to create a US-only standard to allow analog to digital migration over time just a political decision to not make a decision?

The US has a long history of not mandating costly change for technological benefit or global compatibility (ISDN for telephones comes to mind, Digital TV, GSM vs CDMA cellphones, NTSC vs PAL TV) in favor of a demand driven marketplace deciding what changes are important to American consumers.

Is that the right course for the FCC or is "let the marketplace decide" going to leave the US lagging behind the global economy?


At 1:59 PM, Blogger worldsupercaster said...

Digital over the air HD Radio is Dead On Arrival. But, just like a dinosaur who's brain and heart have died the message has not yet reached the tail end, which keeps on wagging.
More here:

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

re: worldsupercaster..

evidently has some sort of vendetta against HD. My Accurian cost $99, picks up all 13 available HD channels in my area, and sounds wonderful. Yes, HD isn't the best, and I believe DRM will be the HD killer, but let's get real...


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