Globe editorial calls FM radio "outdated technology"

Dave Doherty
Tue Aug 24 19:14:22 EDT 2010

Could be, Bill.  I don't know what the TV guys are doing in that regard, 
although I have heard some of the same stuff you have.

Cellular radio broadcasting cannot be done analog on any large scale at this 
time, at least not economically.

Under the current FCC rules, you can use on-channel boosters, but they have 
to be located within the nominally protected coverage contour of a full 
power station, they must be well synchronized so the center frequencies are 
precisely the same, and they have to maintain a great degree of control over 
modulation - BE says their studies indicate that a variance of more than 0.1 
db in modulation starts to have noticeable effects!  All of this means 
digital STLs, synchronization via GPS receiver, and of course careful 
attention to - and control over - propagation delays.

With an all-digital transmission format, it is much easier, at least in 
theory. We would have to blow off the maybe six or seven hundred million 
analog radios said to be in service in this country in favor of the less 
than three million digital ones sold so far.  That's not a trade the 
industry - or the FCC - is willing to make any time soon.

But your point is valid.  Eventually, we will be able to move to an 
all-digital transmission format, and radio broadcasting could take on a 
combination model of a central transmitter with a number of outlying low 
power cells in problem areas, all fed and controlled via the Internet.

On the other hand, it is hard to imagine a workable economic model that 
would have radio go into a purely cellular distribution method that is 
solely dedicated to radio.  More likely, I think, is a logical evolution 
from where we are today. The initial tests with WiMax as a transmission 
medium for streams were promising, but there are problems with mobile 
reception. The Internet moves packets of data, not continuous streams of it. 
Email, websites, and even video are much more tolerant of momentary 
disruptions than pure audio streams. Eventually, the problems will probably 
be overcome for the most part. Once the WiMax infrastructure is built out, 
then car "radios" in metro areas should have access to WiMax streams most of 
the time. But in rural areas and other places where cell phone service is 
dicey today, it is unlikely that WiMax will be much more usable.  So that 
leaves us with radio stations streaming, but also still transmitting OTA 


From: "Bill Smith" <>
Sent: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 4:03 PM
To: <>
Subject: Re: Globe editorial calls FM radio "outdated technology"

> I understand a few TV stations are running multiple digital transmitters 
> to fill
> holes, could this be a first step to broadcasters moving to a cellular 
> model?
> get rid of those million+ dollar towers and go on existing low altitude 
> sites?

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