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DRM makes its pitch for India’s FM band

In India, where regulators have been working toward recommending a standard to digitize the FM band, Digital Radio Mondiale is presenting its case.

DRM has been conducting trials and demos since late February, when a digital radio transmission with three audio services and Journaline text information went live in Delhi alongside existing analog FM transmissions.

It said it is also showing the possibility of extending a shared transmitter infrastructure by broadcasting up to six individual DRM signals or blocks, carrying up to 18 audio services plus 6 multimedia services, being broadcast from one FM transmitter and antenna. It said the number of individual DRM signals is only limited by the bandwidth of the transmitter. Each signal can have its own power level, and gaps in the spectrum are possible, as are individual SFN networks per DRM signal.

“The transmission is part of an extensive trial and demonstration of DRM conducted by Prasar Bharati and its radio arm, All India Radio (AIR), with the help of the DRM Consortium and its local and international members,” DRM stated in a press release. “The test was officially launched on Feb. 24 and 25 at the headquarters of All India Radio in New Delhi.”

The test was requested by regulator TRAI and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.

DRM officials said a presentation to AIR’s committee showed DRM in the FM band on various car radios including line-fit, aftermarket, standalone receivers, mobile phones and tablets. A head unit from Mobis, upgraded for FM via firmware, was installed in a Hyundai Verna. DRM said, “The reception was found to be excellent for over 15 km radius with just 100 W of DRM power in digital,” including  5.1 surround sound test broadcasts on DRM.

The DRM for India Automotive Group wrote, “A whole automotive eco-system has evolved in India around DRM. It includes chipset manufacturers like NXP, Tier-1 receiver manufacturers and car brands like Hyundai, Maruti-Suzuki, Toyota and others. These companies have invested large amounts of money in digitizing car radios based on the DRM technology.”

It said 2.5 million cars on Indian roads have DRM receivers. “The India trial has been an excellent opportunity to demonstrate how the existing DRM transmissions in the former AM bands can be upgraded to support DRM in both AM and FM bands by a simple receiver
firmware update (no change in hardware needed).”

Chairman Ruxandra Obreja said she hoped the results will “convince the Indian authorities that DRM is the right standard to upgrade All India Radio’s already established country-wide DRM services in the AM bands to the FM band.”

Consortium Vice President Alexander Zink listed the involvement of Technomedia for logistics and signal measurement; Gospell and StarWaves for providing consumer receivers; and Fraunhofer IIS, Nautel and RFmondial for content, transmission and professional monitoring receivers. NXP, Hyundai Mobis and Harman also supported the demo with FM-band upgrades to existing automotive DRM receivers.

The trial is to continue in Jaipur, where DRM hopes to demonstrate a transmission in the 600 kHz space between two high-power FM transmissions.

Xperi’s HD Radio FM system has also been tested in New Delhi. Radio World

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