Digital radio technology can bridge India’s digital divide: Ashruf El-Dinary, Senior vice president, HD Radio, Xperi Corp

Recently, HD Radio successfully conducted a trial to provide digital radio technology for FM frequencies with All India Radio (AIR).

Ashruf digital radio
Unlike analogue transmissions, digital radio technology offers crystal clear sound and enables radio stations to transmit multiple programmes and information.

The HD Radio brand is an entity of San Jose, California-based Xperi Corporation, which offers digital radio technology for radio stations, car radio system, mobile phones and any device which has a radio built-in technology. HD Radio is a technology, which offers various digital services to the broadcaster and provides benefits to the listeners such as live city traffic data, emergency alerts, natural calamity alerts etc, says Ashruf El-Dinary, senior vice-president of Xperi’s HD Radio team. Recently, HD Radio successfully conducted a trial to provide digital radio technology for FM frequencies with All India Radio (AIR). “Over 80% of the Indian population listens to FM radio on a regular basis, so increased access to more local radio content will better serve diverse groups,” he tells Sudhir Chowdhary in a recent interview. Excerpts:

What are the benefits of digital radio/broadcasting technology and how will this be of help to the broadcasters?

Unlike analogue transmissions, digital radio technology offers crystal clear sound and enables radio stations to transmit multiple programmes and information, as well as to include associated and relevant digital content and images. While analogue services will continue to normally operate through HD Radio, FM radio stations can add many more programming services to their existing channel allocation. And, because it enables multiple language programming, HD Radio has the ability to bring communities together as well as protect them with real-time emergency and live information, especially to mobile listeners.

Digital radio services also increase radio revenue through enhanced advertisements, improved commercial industry cooperation, and diverse content.

How can this technology benefit the society at large?

Digital radio technology bridges India’s “digital divide” with free over-the-air access to more content and services on affordable devices. Over 80% of the Indian population listens to FM radio on a regular basis, so increased access to more local radio content will better serve diverse groups. And it can bring communities together by helping listeners remain in touch with their specific communities through local entertainment, information, and talk radio shows.

As new products are designed and built for domestic and international use, the technology will support the expansion of the radio and consumer electronics ecosystem. Through the Digital India initiative, HD Radio technology will facilitate the development of applications for local services that enhance management of infrastructure, improve navigation and reduce traffic congestion both through digital broadcasting and its access IoT devices with secure smart-messaging.

What will be the key attributes to make this technology successful?

The success of this beneficial technology is dependent on government support, working together with broadcasters and product innovators, to establish policies to facilitate rapid expansion and equitable operations. Consumers expect attractive, affordable products that are easy to use, such as digital radio enabled phones and cars. And the broadcast industry must generate compelling content and programming to attract the listeners. This goal can be accomplished as HD Radio broadcasting already reaches over 400 million people with more than 2600 radio stations transmitting 4700 digital programmes to more than 85 million receivers.

How does HD Radio technology work in automobiles and bikes?

HD Radio technology, currently available from more than 41 automotive manufacturers across 290 passenger vehicle models, is in over 70 million vehicles. Globally, Xperi is working with Ford, Toyota, Chevrolet, KIA, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Hyundai, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Volkswagen and many others. Recently, BMW Motorrad, successfully deployed an HD Radio receiver on the digital dash of the new 2022 BMW R 18 Transcontinental motorbike.

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