Tag Archives: DRM Consortium

AM Revitalization: DRM Consortium asks FCC to adopt DRM

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Alan, who shares this editorial from Radio World that features edited comments filed with the FCC by the DRM Consortium.

The following unedited letter was taken directly from the FCC comments database:

(Source: FCC Filing [PDF])

In your document (FCC19-123) you rightly highlight the great advantage of AM broadcasts, primarily the ability to cover large areas and number of listeners, while the band itself is losing popularity because of a variety of issues to do with propagation, interference, environmental changes. At the same time, digital audio broadcasting is no longer the new platform it was in 2002. At that time FCC mandated a proprietary system (IBOC, “HD radio”) as the only system to be used in the USA with the possibility of applying DRM for HF.

Since then DRM (the ITU recommended, only digital audio broadcasting for all bands, open standard, has been tested and used all over the world on all bands, short wave, medium wave and FM).

So while you are recommending now pure digital HD, based on the NAB tests and WWFD not completely convincing trial, we would urge the FCC to consider opening the straightjacket of 2002 and allow DRM to be used as a sure, tested, efficient way of digitizing the AM band.

There are several reasons for this:

DRM digital radio delivers in the AM bands significant benefits:

    • Audio quality that is on par or better than FM. DRM of all recognized digital
      standards is the only one using the ultra-efficient and compressed xHE-AAC audio
      codec that delivers at even very low bit-rates exceptional audio quality for speech
      but music, as well. (https://www.drm.org/listen-compare/)
    • Record Data: DRM has been tested in medium wave all over the world in both
      simulcast and pure digital. A list of the main tests (some of which have become ITU
      adopted documents) are included in Annex 4 of the DRM Handbook:
      https://www.drm.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/DRM-Handbook.pdf
      At the moment, 35 MW transmitters are on air in simulcast or pure DRM in India.
      http://prasarbharati.gov.in/R&D/
    • Auxiliary Data. DRM is the newest, most complete, open standard for digitizing radio in
      all frequency bands, and is recommended by ITU. DRM has been devised as a direct
      heir to analog AM (SW, MW). It uses 9/10, 18/20 kHz bandwidth and has a useful content
      bit rate of up to 72kbps. It carries up to 3 programs on one frequency and one data channel, while data can be carried on each of the audio channels as well. One of the great advantages of DRM is that alongside excellent audio, the receiver screens will display visual information of any kind required (albums’ titles, singers’ photos, maps, visuals of any sort, data of any kind). The Journaline application allows for extra information from the internet or the RSS feeds of the broadcaster to be captured and displayed. Currently broadcasters like the BBC, All India Radio, KTWR in Guam are using this extra facility that clearly differentiates digital form analog as a superior option.
    • Power/energy efficiency. Using SW or MW in DRM can reduce the power used up
      to 80%). As per calculations made by Ampegon, a medium wave transmitter can
      cover an area of 235000 sq km with a 100kW transmitter. The DRM EPR of such a
      transmitter is about 50kW and the coverage area is the same, while instead of one
      analog programme up to three digital channels and one data channel can be
      broadcast, all in excellent audio quality.
    • Spectrum efficiency (more programmes can be broadcast on one single frequency
      used for one programme in analog) as explained above.
    • DRM, unlike analog, offers enhanced and stable audio quality that is FM-like
      (mono or stereo). DRM also offers multiservice data enabled by applications like
      Journaline (the enhanced text services, more information captured as RSS feeds or
      form other internet source), slideshows, multilingual text (practically being able to
      show any characters of any language not just Latin script), and the Emergency
      Warning Functionality (EWF) in case of disasters.
    • Interference. This has not been noted as the DRM signal will always be lower than
      the analog one. AIR has not noted any interference in its operation of DRM
      transmitters. The mask values required for an optimal functioning of DRM
      transmitters is clearly stipulated in the ITU documents and as long as the network
      planning is correct, and the mask is respected there should not be any issue of
      interference in digital-analog or digital-digital DRM transmissions.
    • Receivers. Currently there are several receiver models and SDR options for the
      reception of DRM in AM. India has almost 2 million new cars fitted with DRM
      receivers, at no cost to the buyers, that are capable of and are receiving DRM
      mediumwave signals. The audio quality is excellent and a sure benefit to the users.
    • DRM is in direct succession to the analog AM (and FM) services, not owned or
      controlled by any single company and immediately available with full know-how and
      technology access by the transmitter and receiver industry.
    • As HD in mediumwave is a bit of a necessary step but still a leap in the dark, it
      would make sense from the practical aspects and even receiver solution availability
      to allow DRM as the best, clearly proven solution of digitizing the AM band (in
      preference or alongside HD) in the US.

In short, the salient advantages of DRM are:

    1. The audio quality offered by DRM is equally excellent on all the transmission bands:
      MW, SW or VHF
    2. Robust signal unaffected by noise, fading or other forms and interference in all bands
    3. Clear and powerful sound quality with facility for stereo and 5.1 surround
    4. More audio content and choice: Up to two and even three audio programmes and one
      data channel on one frequency
    5. Extra multimedia content: Digital radio listeners can get multimedia content
      including audio, text, images and in future even small-scale video, such as:

      • Text messages in multiple languages
      • Journaline – advanced text-based information service supporting all classes of
        receivers, providing anytime-news for quick look-up on the receiver’s screen;
        interactivity and geo-awareness allowing targeted advertising
      • Electronic Programme Guide (EPG), showing what’s up now and next; search
        for programmes and schedule recordings
      • Slideshow Programme accompanying images and animation
      • Traffic information
    6. Automatically switch for disaster & emergency warnings in case of impending
      disasters in large areas, automatically presenting the audio message, while providing
      detailed information on the screen in all relevant languages simultaneously. Great
      potential to become the surest and widest means of alerting the population to
      emergencies.

Therefore, we urge FCC to take a wide view and consider all options including DRM, if AM is worth futureproofing in the USA.

[This filing also included a number of “Useful Press Links]

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Chairman of DRM Consortium looks at the current state of shortwave

(Source: Radio World via Maichael Black)

Note that the excerpt below is only a portion of the full article. Read the full piece at Radio World.

Does Shortwave Have a Future?

by RUXANDRA OBREJA

When is the last time you heard a shortwave radio transmission? And why should you put up with possible crackly audio and some interference when we have now internet, satellites, FM and all forms of digital radio?

[…]Shortwave is just short of a miracle, actually. When it is beamed at an angle, it hits the ionosphere. A mirror around the Earth and then it falls like a ball at great distances, beyond the horizon. Thus these transmissions reach listeners over large areas, continents and beyond. Two or three high-power transmitters can potentially cover the entire world.

Shortwave is used not just by international radio stations or radio amateurs but is also essential for aviation, marine, diplomatic and emergency purposes. Shortwave signals are not restricted or controlled by the receiving countries and, as frequencies change in winter and summer, they need to be coordinated internationally.

[…]Digital Radio Mondiale was originally invented to offer medium (AM) and large coverage (HF) and the advantages of the good audio quality and extra multimedia services that can take shortwave into the 21st century. Maybe DRM was ahead of its time. The phasing in of digital broadcasts internationally was not in tandem with the production and sale of receivers, which remains a regional and national business. Since its birth DRM has proven that it is a suitable option for shortwave offering an good digital quality of audio and even short live video at great distance without fading and crackly sound.

Now, at last, there are DRM receivers capable of receiving shortwave, there are broadcasts and interested broadcasters. Quietly and surely shortwave is being re-examined and appreciated for the quality of broadcasts and its potential as a “crisis radio” too. It can become crucial in emergencies when local and regional radio stations, satellite and internet may be off the air due to damage. Broadband is getting cheaper but is limited, 5G will come but not just yet, digital shortwave is here.[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

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Special two hour DRM broadcast today at 12:00 UTC

According to the DRM Consortium, there will be a special two hour DRM broadcast today (April 18) starting at 12:00 UTC:

Special DRM transmission tomorrow 18th April from Spaceline during DRM GA at 1200-1400UTC on 11600kHz. From Kostinbrod, Bulgaria with antenna directed at 260 degrees. The content will be from Mighty KBC.

Note that this broadcast starts less than two hours from time of posting. Please comment if you log this broadcast!

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PantronX Titus II DRM receiver: HFCC posts “pre-order” form

titus 2 big

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Aaron Kuhn, who writes:

The HFCC is now collecting “pre-orders” (really expressions of interest in purchasing/demand) for the PantronX Titus II Android Radio at http://hfcc.org/delivery/receivers.phtml

“The purpose of this form is to collect the information on the demand for pre-production samples of the Titus II receiver.

It is NOT BINDING and it does not establish any contract. The ordering party is not obliged to buy the indicated quantity and the supplier is not obliged to deliver it.

Availability: Pre-production batch – 4Q/2016, regular production – 1Q/2017.

Price: Under 100USD plus shipping and local duty/taxes not included.

Payment methods: Wire transfer for larger quantities, PayPal works too, but the buyers would need to add PayPal bank fees.

You will be contacted on the specified e-mail address and asked for a binding order when the exact price and available delivery method is known.”

As Aaron also noted, though the HFCC posted this, the pre-order request form appears to be published by the manufacturer. I’m sure this is a way PantronX can gauge market interest and also decide what first-run production numbers should look like.

Thanks again for the tip, Aaron!

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Details Emerge: The PantronX Titus II DRM Portable Receiver

TitusII-DRM-Receiver

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Harald Kuhl (DL1ABJ), who shares more details about the new Titus 2 DRM receiver via the DRM Consortium Chairman, Ruxandra Obreja:

NEW DRM RECEIVER UNVEILED at HFCC MEETING IN MIAMI, FLORIDA THIS WEEK!

The HFCC meeting is being held 22-26 August in Miami and on this occasion there was a live DRM transmission form Radio Vaticana received on  the new Titus2 DRM receiver (pls. see attached document with picture and details) http://www.drmna.info/.

Here is also a little testimony of how this prototype to be sold “at under 100 dollars” performed from Ray Robinson, Operations Manager at KVOH (Voice of Hope / Voz de Esperanza):

I’m currently at the HFCC conference in Miami, and reception of the DRM broadcast here this afternoon was very successful.  Reception was made outside the hotel on two receivers – a  NewStar DR-111 and a brand new pre-production receiver from Pantronix called the Titus 2, with a cluster of attendees gathered round taking photos and videos.  The latter receiver is based on an Android tablet in a stereo radio format with one speaker each side of the central horizontal tablet.  Reception on both radios was solid throughout, on a day when analog reception on 16m was plagued with a lot of atmospheric noise.  We haven’t done detailed calculations, but figure there were probably at least three hops from Italy to Miami, and for a daylight path, the reception quality was nothing short of astounding.

Click here to download the Titus II PDF brochure.

TitusII-DRM-Receiver-Specifications

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Radio World: The evolution of shortwave radio

Panasonic-RF-2200-1

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Richard Langley, who shares the following article by James Careless in Radio World Magazine.

The article includes interviews with Andy Sennitt, Kim Andrew Elliott, Nigel Fry,  and even yours truly. The following is a short excerpt taken from the introduction of the article:

(Source: Radio World)

OTTAWA, Ontario — With the advent of radio in the 20th century, the shortwave band (1710–30,000 kHz) soon became a hotbed of long-distance radio broadcasting. Used primarily by state-run international broadcasters, plus ham radio operators and ship-to-shore radio communications, the shortwave band was prized due to its astoundingly broad reach.

That reach was — and is still — made possible by the tendency of ground-based shortwave radio transmissions to bounce off the ionosphere and back to earth; allowing shortwave broadcasts to “hop” repeatedly, increasing a broadcast’s range while minimizing its decay.

[…]At the height of the Cold War, the shortwave bands were packed with content as the Voice of America and West Germany’s Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany) traded ideological punches with Radio Moscow and East Germany’s Radio Berlin International. This is because analog shortwave radio broadcasting was the only way for both sides to make their political cases cross international borders: There was no satellite TV, let alone any internet.

Read the full, in-depth article on the Radio World website…

This article is well worth reading and one of the more in-depth pieces I’ve seen in a trade publication or news site recently.

I should add that I completely agree with James Careless’ conclusion:

“[T]he research that went into this article suggests that the shortwave band is sufficiently alive to be still evolving.”

The fact is, the shortwave landscape is not what used to be in the Cold War. Many of those big voices have left the scene and, in the process, left the door open to others.

The shortwaves are a dynamic communications space that continues to evolve.

That’s why I keep listening.

Want to read more about the future of shortwave radio? Click here to read Does Shortwave Radio Have a Future?

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First DRM European Workshop

Many thanks to SWLing Post readers, Cap and Bill, who both shared this press release from the DRM consortium:

(Source: DRM Consortium)

drmlogoFirst DRM European Workshop “Flexible and Complete Digital Radio for Europe”
asks European Stakeholders to Support and Manufacture DRM and DAB+ Receivers

Following from a very successful General Assembly, the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) Consortium, and the German DRM Platform held a most comprehensive European workshop hosted by Fraunhofer IIS in Erlangen, Germany from 6th to 7th April 2016.

This was a first such DRM event aimed at offering solutions to all broadcasters large or small. During their presentations and discussions participants stressed that DRM is the ITU endorsed and internationally adopted standard for the distribution of programmes internationally, nationally and up to local coverage level. DRM can also provide an economic and complementary solution to exactly those coverage scenarios that the established DAB/DAB+ networks in Band-III were never designed for.

Following their deliberations the participants urged all stakeholders of Digital Radio in Europe – including European organisations, regulators, broadcasters and the receiver and automotive industry – to embrace publicly the duality and complementarity of the open DRM and DAB standards as the complete Digital Radio solution for Europe (and worldwide). This means a digital future for all broadcasters, offering more programme choice to listeners, extra multimedia services with text and images, increased energy savings and spectrum efficiency. The participants ask ‘all European stakeholders to promote actively the manufacturing and distribution of multi-standard Digital Radio receivers, comprising at least the DRM and DAB standards.’

The first session, held in conjunction with the open part of the DRM General Assembly, took a brief look at the status of DRM adoption around the world, including the DRM roll-out in India, ready to become the largest digital radio market in the world with over 600 million people being reached by DRM broadcasts. Presentations given by experts from various European countries showed that the digitisation of radio progresses in Europe. At the end of the first day Fraunhofer IIS (Bernd Linz) demonstrated the latest development to provide traffic and travel services in DRM radios, soon to be installed in Asia. Afterwards Martin Speitel demonstrated the features of the Fraunhofer software package for car radios with DRM. With this solution, radio manufacturers can quickly build or enhance radio platforms on a proven modular system covering the full DRM and DAB standards including their full feature sets, thus shortening their development times and, in turn, reducing their costs.

On the 7th April benefits and opportunities of DRM were shown with practical applications. Ampegon (Matthias Stoll) showed how easy and cost-effective the transition from analogue AM to DRM can be. Marc Holthof of the German Navy gave an example of how to use DRM over shortwave for maritime broadcasting of information and entertainment to ship crews at sea. Csaba Szombathy, Technical University of Budapest, demonstrated his original monitoring programme of DRM transmissions. Then RFmondial (Jens Schroeder), demonstrated how to provide DRM services in the crowded FM band compatible with all the existing FM stations. Joachim Lehnert, German DRM Platform Chairman, showed that DRM is a suitable system for local/regional coverage in VHF Band III, fully compatible with DAB/DAB+ and DVB-T networks and in keeping with RRC-06. RFmondial (Detlef Pagel) also referred to the use of DRM in VHF Band III and stressed that DRM+ is the most suitable digital system for the local and regional single-station broadcasters, as a complement to multiplexes, while sharing all the listener related features with the DAB+ standard. Finally, Manfred Kühn, Mobile Broadcast Consult, demonstrated the flexible transmission of multiple DRM channels in a single DAB frequency block in VHF Band III.

This session was followed by a status report on the development of digital multi-standard radios, presented by Robert Bosch Car Multimedia, NXP, Fraunhofer IIS, PnP Networks and Panasonic. All the speakers finally emphasized the market and framework requirements for the production of multistandard radios for Europe.

Joachim Lehnert, Chairman of the German DRM Platform, concluded that the workshop was an important step to bringing national activities together and added; “With all the European DRM activities presented over the past two days and the encouraging messages from the receiver industry, I believe that the famous ‘chicken or egg’ problem can be solved from the receiver end by adding DRM as a complement to existing digital receivers. This will eventually help all radio broadcasters across Europe, whether national, local or community stations, and will ensure each has a digital home in the future.”

Click here to download the PDF of this press release.

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