Greg Smith from hdradiofarce.com sent along an interesting article on what might have been instead of HD radio, absent the back-room dealing with the FCC, iBiquity, and NPR. This article on RadioWorld.com talks about FMeXtra as “Radio’s Best-Kept Secret”:
An FM station can add several additional digital audio channels with no FCC permission or notification, no change to the current transmitter or antenna, no license fees and no digital hash on adjacent channels. It is called FMeXtra and it’s from a company called VuCast, formerly Digital Radio Express . . .
It requires, as does HD radio, a special receiver, but the cost to stations — and the lack of interference to neighboring signals — leads the author to the conclusion: “The bottom line: FMeXtra does more than HD Radio at a fraction of the cost.”
But as Greg points out, “iNiquity convinced VuCast to noncompete through iNiquity stock options . . . Big surprise . . .” He cites this 2005 Radio World article:
Eventually DRE asked the NRSC to reactivate the DAB subcommittee. Early on, we saw that IBOC was going nowhere as long as there were multiple proponents, and even in the best estimates, it would be many years before there would be any return on investment. So we decided to license our patent portfolio for use in IBOC to USA Digital Radio, which eventually merged with Lucent’s IBOC group to form Ibiquity. We are an Ibiquity shareholder . . . There is no significant difference in spectrum occupancy between the “extended hybrid” mode of IBOC today and these earlier systems, which were deemed by the NRSC and others to be incompatible with the host analog FM signal.
All in all, it’s just another brick in the wall . . .