USA Digital Radio Coalition Makes Technical Progress

Progress toward a working digital radio technology took a big step forward in April with the addition of Lowpass Prototype Inc. to the development team. According to an April 27 press release, USA Digital Radio, Inc., a privately held digital radio technology company owned by the nation's largest radio broadcasters, has added the manufacturer of radio-frequency systems for radio and television transmission to its coalition to develop and commercialize digital AM and FM radio.

Lowpass Prototype will design and test digital injectors—devices used to combine digital signals with existing FM analog signals—that are more efficient and cost-effective than those currently available. "iDAB is a broadcasting technology that uses the current radio spectrum to transmit existing AM and FM analog simultaneously with new high-quality digital signals," according to the announcement. (USADR's website makes extensive mention of "iDAB" without defining the acronym.) The technology will let both broadcasters and listeners "convert from analog to digital radio without service disruption while maintaining current dial positions of existing stations. Listeners who purchase digital radios would receive their favorite radio stations with superior sound quality free from static, hiss, and noise, and with reduced interference."

Technology being developed by Lowpass Prototype will benefit broadcasters by lowering adaptation costs for the changeover to digital; consumers will benefit from clearer signals. "iDAB is designed to give consumers superior sound quality and crystal-clear reception while listening to their favorite AM and FM stations, and to display new data services on a radio screen, such as song and artist identification, local traffic, weather, news, and more," the announcement stated.

"Lowpass Prototype is pleased to enter into a technology and marketing agreement with USADR to help further the development of low-cost, state-of-the-art IBOC (in-band on-channel) solutions," said Lowpass Prototype president Derek Small. "Providing advanced cost-effective solutions is paramount for the successful implementation of iDAB technology."

USADR president and CEO Robert J. Struble had nothing but praise for Mr. Small. "Derek Small is greatly respected by the broadcast equipment industry and is a talented and innovative product designer," he said. "We are confident that working with Lowpass Prototype will further our goal of providing broadcasters with economical options for their digital transition."