Why the NASB Joined DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale)
by: Ted Haney
As an Association of private shortwave broadcasters licensed by the
U.S. Federal Communications Commission, our members represent
stations with a combined transmitter power of over 7 million watts,
broadcasting in excess of 900 hours per day in more than 140
languages. The NASB feels it is important to be a part of the DRM
for several reasons:
* We want to be informed on developments and trends that will
affect us as broadcasters. We know it is not a question of
"whether" there will be digital transmissions, it is a matter
of "when". And, we realize this is likely to happen sooner than
later. Probably much sooner than many of us realize. Being a
member of the DRM puts the NASB on the inside track of what is
happening and what the future may hold.
* Through the DRM we can have a voice in helping to determine what
will happen as we move into the digital age. We have had that
opportunity through participation in the Technical Committee, the
Commercial Committee and the General Assembly of the DRM.
* We can be of help to the DRM by representing the private sector
of broadcasting. Most international shortwave broadcasting
organizations are related to the governments of the nations they
represent. It is very important that they be involved and their
voices be heard. At the same time the NASB has a contribution to
make since our experience comes out of a private non-government
background. Our insights, combined with that of government broad-
casters, benefits the DRM by giving it a broad perspective.
* Being a member of the DRM has given the NASB the privilege of
interfacing with other international shortwave broadcasters with
both similar as well as diverse concerns, backgrounds, experience
and points of view. This has proven to be mutually beneficial.
* The NASB believes that by being part of the DRM we can be better
informed and more involved in a creative way in the digital
revolution as we move from analogue into digital broadcasting in
the 21st century.
DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE MEETINGS
IN LAS VEGAS, April 14-16, 1999
by: Ted Haney
At the DRM meetings in Las Vegas the National Association of
Shortwave Broadcasters, NASB, was officially recognized as an
Associate Member of the DRM. This came as a result of countless
e-mails, faxes, FedExes and phone calls to Geneva over a period of
some 5 months. It was well worth the time, effort and money spent.
We had 4 sponsors: Continental, Harris, TCI and Nozema, a company
in the Netherlands. Their backing was very much appreciated.
The value of being an official part of the DRM became very evident
during the DRM meetings in Las Vegas. There the NASB was able to
participate in the discussions and gain an insider's view of what
is happening, and is likely to happen in digital radio worldwide.
The DRM has a General Assembly, which is attended by Members and
Associate Members and where the voting takes place. Associate
Members have voice, but no vote. The Commercial Committee deals
with the financial and commercial aspects of the DRM. The Technical
Committee handles technical, scientific and engineering matters.
The Technical Committee did not meet. It is responsible for source
coding, channel modulation and multi-carrier matters. This is the
committee where detailed high tech discussions occur involving the
German and the French versions. The DRM decided not to choose
between the French and German systems. The two parties agreed to
incorporate the best features of both systems. This will delay the
final decision for a world-wide system.
The Commercial Committee met on April 14. Its purpose is to find
ways to fund the DRM and make it self supporting. The present
target date for having receivers on the market is 2001. The DRM
hopes to receive royalties of 25 cents/receiver. The Commercial
Committee does not see any substantial sales of digital radios
until around 2004. The number of digital AM receivers will
increase slowly at first but by the year 2016 it is estimated there
will be 1,000,000,000 (one billion) digital AM radios worldwide.
This is AM receivers, and does not include FM.
The General Assembly met on April 16. It covered many of the same
areas as the Commercial Committee as well as some additional ones.
There are two potential problem areas which involve shortwave.
1) There is a move by the power generating companies in the U.K.,
and to a lesser extent in Germany, to use power lines to send data
into homes. The strength of the signal transmitting the data will
be of such a magnitude that it could "mask" any shortwave signals
within 10 meters of the wiring in a home. This means homes which
receive data via this mode would not be able to receive shortwave
broadcasts. This could be a serious threat to shortwave, especially
in the more developed nations.
Unfortunately there is no current law in any of the countries that
prohibits this from happening. There is some discussion, and even
some experimentation, going on in the U.S. This concept is not new.
College and University radio stations have been using this means of
transmitting their programs to dorms over power lines for decades.
The difference is that the signal strength was relatively low.
2) The second potential problem area involves three competing
digital systems in the U.S.:USADR, Lucent and Digital Express. At
the time of the meeting USADR was already in contact with the ITU
and was seeking to steer its proposal through channels. Lucent and
Digital Express had not yet begun that process.
The procedure is for the competing concepts to be evaluated by
authorized testing authorities. Only one will be chosen. It may
or may not be compatible with the DRM choice. Conceivably there may
be more than one world standard. DRM was conceived for the purpose
of NOT allowing this to happen.
The DRM was in dialogue with USADR to see if there was some way for
the organizations to complement each other instead of competing.
This was in the discussion stage in Las Vegas, but is now being
carried on much more vigorously. This could be a threat to a world
standard. How it will play out remains to be seen.
Invitation to Share Your News Items
Starting with the next NASB Newsletter, space will be made
available for news from NASB Members and Associate Members. For
those wishing to have news items included, please send them to:
Dan Elyea at 10400 NW 240th St., Okeechobee, FL 34972.
Report on 1999 NASB Annual Meeting
A summary of the content of several sessions follows. Reports on
other sessions will be carried in the next Newsletter.
Digital Radio Mondiale and Evaluation of In Band On Channel (IBOC)
Dr. Don Messer
Dr. Messer defined Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) as: "...a
wide consortium of over 30 broadcasting, receiver and transmitter
manufacturing, and research and development organizations whose
purpose is to develop, test, and produce the equipment for a
digital radio service for the shortwave (HF), mediumwave (MF) and
longwave (LF) bands."
He clarified that the DRM itself will not be the producer
hardware. That probably will be done by member organizations of
the DRM. The DRM will concern itself with developing a set of
standards for digital radio in the specified bands.
He gave these as primary technical objectives: "In the 'near
term', no change in channel bandwidths of 9/10 kHz; Highest
possible audio quality, consistent with propagation reality in the
bands (HF,MF,LF); Highest signal reception reliability possible
within a planned coverage area; Wider area coverage with increased
spectral efficiency; Less power required for planned coverage;
(all comparisons made with respect to today's analog modulation);
Later, increase channel bandwidths for even better audio quality"
Within the frequency range of concern to the DRM, design
requirements vary significantly for the HF, MF, and LF bands.
Factors involved (due to characteristics of the different
propagation modes used) include differences in atmospheric noise,
multipath, interference from other users, and doppler effects.
Major criteria used by the DRM to evaluate potential contenders
include: "Inherent (unimpaired) audio quality of a codec; Circuit
reliability (robustness); Coverage area, with and without
'graceful degradation' [gradual as contrasted to abrupt cutoff of
reception], for assigned levels of power at the transmitter; Ease
of use with existing double sideband transmitters, both linear/low
power and non-linear/high power; Channel planning considerations;
Single frequency network operation [synchronized transmitters
covering a region]; Receiver cost as a function of the above"
Within a standard broadcast channel as presently used, a DRM
digital signal is expected to give a quality to mediumwave
reception about the same as present monophonic FM. For HF
skywave transmissions, the primary benefit is expected to be
greatly reduced problems due to interference and propagation. The
schedule anticipated by the DRM is as follows: "Complete revised
system design by this summer; Conduct additional lab tests this
summer; Conduct field tests late this year for final optimization;
Develop standard next year; Produce first line of receivers within
a few years"
Three potential IBOC systems are presently being evaluated:
Lucent, Digital Radio Express, and USA Digital Radio.
Around the end of this year these groups will submit the results of
laboratory and field tests for analysis. Each will be compared to
existing analog systems and a report produced on each one.
A point brought up from the floor by Continental's Fred Riley is
that an entire generation of transmitters may be obsoleted by the
implementation of any of the existing proposals.
Sufficiently wide audio response and minimal incidental phase
modulation are two of the critical requirements that many
transmitters will fail to meet in successfully handling the digital
Fred also mentioned an aspect of digital modulation techniques that
will significantly reduce power bills in the future---the
peak-to-average ratio. Presently about 6 db, it will then be 9-10
Report on USWP-10A
This Working Party concerns itself with broadcasting below 30 MHz.
Harmonization of the use of 7MHz between the Amateur Radio
Service and the HF broadcasters is one topic presently being
A special rapporteur's group has been established to study HF
issues with Walt Ireland as Chairman.
The 7 MHz issue is on the proposed agenda for the next WRC
WRC 2000. The WRC 2000 will set the official agenda for the
following WRC, which may fall in 2003.
Another HF issue is the needs of HF broadcasters
frequencies in the bands between 4 to 10 MHz.
The meetings of Working Party 10A are open to the public.
wishing to be informed of meeting dates and agenda should give Walt
their e-mail address. To contact Walt by e-mail, the address is
wireland@ARRL.org Meetings will most likely take place at the
FCC offices in the Portals.
A reflector will be set up for the Special Rapporteurs Group 10 A,
probably in early June. Those wishing to participate in the
reflector should give their names to Walt Ireland. Initially at
least, the work of this group will be handled by e-mail
Another issue of interest to both broadcasters and the amateur
service concerns proposed expanded use of data transmission using
power lines. It is expected to impact HF up to 9 or 10 MHz with
signal levels of about 30 microvolts within a 30 meter range.
NASB Board elected for 1999-2000
The NASB Board met following the Annual Meeting. Due to other
responsibilities Glenn Sink from TWR and John Tayloe from High
Adventure were unable to stand for reelection to the NASB Board.
Doug Garlinger from LaSea Broadcasting and Joe Dentici from WEWN
were elected to the Board. Doug accepted, but after consultation with
WEWN, Joe was not able to accept at this time due to increased
responsibilities at WEWN. The Board then decided to stay with five
members for the coming year with the expectation that a sixth
member will be added at the next Annual Meeting.
On behalf of the NASB, we want to thank Glenn and John for their
faithful service on the NASB Board. We will miss them, but realize
that at this time your expertise is need elsewhere. Thank you,
Glenn and John!
Officers for 1999-2000 are:
President: Ted Haney
Vice President: Ed Evans
Secretary/Treasurer: Dan Elyea.
The NASB Board wishes to express its thanks to all of the Members
and Associate Members for their continued participation in the
The next meeting of WP10A will take place in January.
Adventist World Radio
Family Radio Network
Far East Broadcasting Co.
Herald Broadcasting Syndicate
High Adventure Ministries
LeSea Broadcasting Corp.
Radio Miami International
World Christian Broadcasting
WorldWide Catholic Radio
NASB Associate Members:
Continental Electronics Corp.
George Jacobs & Associates
HCJB World Radio
Technology for Communication Int'l.