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Nautel brings digital radio transmission technologies to forefront

Nautel, now entering its 51st year, is the leading provider of radio-transmission solutions worldwide, and has been at the forefront of digital radio-transmission technologies both in MW-AM and FM. India has also been a leader in the adoption of digital radio transmission, with the world’s largest deployment of DRM30 transmission equipment at All India Radio sites throughout the country. Nautel was the equipment provider for AIR’s digital broadcasting system, supplying 33 high-power medium-wave transmitters for the project, which was completed in 2018. Interest in digital transmission technologies remains very high in India, where Nautel is currently involved in demonstration/testing of multi-channel digital broadcasts using DRM+ and HD radio. (Nautel transmitters can be operated on either DRM+ or HD Radio, along with analog transmission.)

“Nautel has three key strengths in the broadcast industry,” said John Abdnour, Nautel India Territory Manager. “The first is our reputation for reliability. Over the past five decades, we have produced some of the industry’s most reliable transmitters. In fact, many transmitters built in the 1980s are still on the air today. Second is Nautel support. Nautel has never discontinued support on any product, which is greatly appreciated by our customers. Customers have consistently ranked Nautel in the highest support-ratings group. Third is the strength of our engineering team, which has been producing amazing innovations for broadcasting and digital transmission.”

A leading innovation from Nautel’s technical team is the Advanced User Interface (AUI), which has become standard in all major Nautel broadcast transmitters for over a decade. Designed to help engineers proactively manage transmitter monitoring and service, the AUI takes advantage of the extensive information available through the design of Nautel’s modern transmitters. Metering can be configured down to the level of every amplifier in the transmitter, and AUI displays include real-time impedance measurement, instrument-grade spectrum and audio analyzers, HD/DRM modulation analyzers, numerous control functions, scheduling, and logging. Other Nautel innovations include direct digital input to transmitters from digital audio processors, onboard audio processing, the ability to deliver local content to remote transmitters in the event of a network outage, and more.

Along with these innovations, Nautel product updates and technological advances now allow an easy path to digital operation for broadcast stations of any size, bringing new opportunities to these MW-AM and FM broadcasters. Stations around the world are looking for ways to reach new audiences, including the possibility of offering broadcasts in different languages via multiple channels on the same transmitter. Broadcasters are also highly interested in linking multiple digital FM transmitters together using the same programming. To this end, Nautel chief technology officer, Philipp Schmid, has demonstrated a concept for creating a highly reliable single-frequency network for HD radio transmission, showing that is possible to seamlessly hand off digital signals from one transmitter to another. This is done, with minimal interference, by utilizing precise modulation and time synchronization of both the composite FM audio signal and the digital signal.

Further research from Schmid and Nautel’s engineering team has also resulted in Nautel’s innovative HD Multiplex, a concept which enables up to 15 digital channels on one FM frequency, and recent tests on all-digital MW broadcasts in the United States. With more than 17,000 transmitters deployed in 177 countries since 1970, and more than 8000 deployments of AUI-enabled transmitters, Nautel continues to lead the way in providing valuable new solutions for digital radio broadcasting and other applications. Nautel is in stand 50 at BES2020.

Nautel products in India are marketed by Comcon Technlogies Ltd.

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