The Same Old Song

Finally a little sanity. The Infinite Blog site here is a little more circumspect in its analysis of Apple’s “move” into HD radio. As this post leads off:

First of all, don’t get too excited about the press reports that Apple has applied for a patent to include HD radio technology in future iPods and iPhones. As iN3 Partners’ Robert Unmacht points out, “This in no way means they will do it. Tech companies file for many things to protect themselves and never use it. There are power issues (the chip is a bit of a hog), space issues, and always cost issues.”

As usual, this is just another run of the Struble Follies, struttin’ the swag they’ve become so famous for here and on sites like and others. And on, John Anderson writes about a new wrinkle to HD radio: the use of translators. Without going all technical on it, John gives a thumbnail description:

In the case of FM translators being used to replicate AM broadcasters, HD is at fault partly because of the interference it generates on the AM band. But simulcasting FM-HD content on an analog FM transmitter is a case of circuitous idiocy.

Here goes the apparent business model: first, launch a technology capable of multicasting, but prone to listening problems. When listeners don’t adopt said technology in droves, take the content you made for that platform and put it on the old analog medium to maximize your investment in the technology.

Note the end result is not a net benefit for the proliferation of HD Radio. Instead, it’s more stress put on the FM spectrum through everybody’s favorite pet loophole, the translator. Translators, as a class of radio station, were never designed to be a primary broadcast provider, but more and more the industry seems to be treating them like they are.

In a technical working paper on a completely different policy issue (the recycling of spectrum for wireless broadband), the FCC somberly described the the task it faced with these words: “Spectrum policy is not easy. Technology changes. Consumer preferences and habits change. Business models change. Allocation priorities change. And this change can be daunting.”

It is amazing that, in the case of spectrum-regulation work being done in a different division or bureau within the same agency, that the FCC can talk with such apparent seriousness and then, in the case of broadcast radio, act with such carelessness. And the fact that a growing number of radio stations (both AM and FM) appear to be flocking to the use of FM translators as a form of refuge (although their practices are legal) should be ringing some bells in the heads of FCC staff tasked to monitor HD Radio’s vitality.


One Response

  1. Did anyone even bother to read the title of the patent? This was an updated filing of the original from 2008. It clearly describes enhanced interaction with a remote adaptor, such as the Gigware, or any device with RDS information, such as analog FM. It was facinating watching Apple Insider’s misinterpretation spread to the Press, and then to radio trades, such as Radio Ink, Radio World, and Harker Research. This is the same nonsense that was pulled two years ago, when the HD Radio Alliance spread the rumor that Apple was manufacturing an HD Radio boombox. LOL!

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