Brazil to opt for DRM?

By the end of this month (March 2010) Brazil is expected to announce what standard it is going to choose for terrestrial digital radio. Until recently all signs indicated that they were going to opt for Ibiquity’s HD Radio, the standard used in the United States, but it now appears that Digital Radio Mondiale, or DRM, is gaining favour. If Brazil chooses DRM it will be the first major country to do so in the region and the size of its market (population 190 million) will help convince manufacturers to design and building DRM receivers for the mass market.

HD Radio is a proprietary solution that belongs to iBiquity Digital Corporation, which in turn belongs to a consortium that includes most of the large radio networks in the USA. DRM is an open standard developed by a consortium of European public broadcasters.  iBiquity ‘s buiness model in the US involves charging licence fees to broadcasters. Fees start at about $10,000 annually and rise as more features are added to the basic package. DRM is an open standard and available for free.

According to an article by Luís Osvaldo Grossmann, Rádio Digital: Preferido pelos técnicos, DRM sofre ataques do Iboc, published on the Convergencia Digital website, iBiquity is taking the DRM threat very seriously and the company’s president , Robert Struble,  has writen a “carta aos amigos brasileiros” seeking to “clarify some incorrect notions” about his company’s technology.

To date DRM’s biggest drawback has been the lack of affordable receivers. However, if Brazil opt for DRM the sheer market size of the regional power will make it attractive for manufacturers to design and build receivers for the mass market.

All India Radio (AIR) chose DRM as a standard late last year and has set out an ambitious plan to have its entire network of 149 MW, 54 SW and 171 FM transmitters running DRM by 2013 with an eye to shutting down analogue transmissions in 2015. According to an article in Dxers Guide AIR has said:

“The most important issues shall be to make available DRM receivers at affordable cost to the vast masses of India. It is expected that receiver manufacturers in India and abroad shall address this issue as DRM is progressively implemented in the next five years”.

If Brazil’s market isn’t attractive enough, India’s most certainly will be.

Robert Struble,
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3 Responses to “Brazil to opt for DRM?”


  • Dear Sirs,

    There are some omitted details in your article which I would like to take this opportunity to clarify.

    DRM goes to great effort to differentiate itself from iBiquity and portray itself as an altruistic, non profit organization. In reality, there are not many differences between the two organizations except for their business structure and methods of collecting royalties. The end results are the same in both cases.

    While it is true that the DRM Consortium is a non commercial organization, its members include the for-profit companies who make money selling DRM’s technology. These makers of DRM products in turn pay patent royalties to the DRM licensors, who include such commercial companies as AT&T, Dolby Laboratories, France Telecom, Fraunhofer, NEC, Panasonic, Sony and Thomson.

    iBiquity’s broadcaster business model which was mentioned in the article does not apply outside of the United States. In the rest of the world, iBiquity does not charge license fees to radio stations for the use of its broadcast technology. Our business model elsewhere in the world is the same as DRM’s – we simply collect a fee from the manufacturers who use our technology. This is the same business model used by most technology products today. The costs are eventually passed down to the end users, but the final costs of the products are determined by free market competition. iBiquity collects royalty fees directly from the manufacturers. In DRM’s case, royalties are collected by a third party patent pool administrator, as described at http://www.vialicensing.com/licensing/DRM_fees.cfm.

    With regard to the concept of an “open standard”, most of the technical aspects of both technologies are in fact fully documented and available to the public. The HD Radio documentation is available on line at http://www.nrscstandards.org/download.asp?file=NRSC-5-B.asp.

    Thank you for this opportunity to clarify these issues.

    John Schneider
    iBiquity Digital Corporation

  • I think both the article and the subsequent letter from the ibiquiy executive failed to point out the most salient point about DRM, HD and digital radio in general and that point is that digital radio is not successful anywhere and is a lead balloon. Consumers do not want nor need digital radio and it largely elicits a collective yawn anywhere it is foisted upon the public. HD has bombed here in the USA as has DRM in Britain.Both methods of digital transmission cut the receive range severely, interfere with adjacent frequencies and do not really sound better, they are quieter around their very narrow area around the transmitter where they can be received but otherwise analog sound is much better when engineered properly. DRM and HD will soon join that littered highway strew with other electronic flops and out dated electronics such as 8 track tape players and quadraphonic receivers.

  • In either case – IBOC or DRM hasn’t been accepted by consumers. Both have dismal track records but that doesn’t stop the proponents from stretching the truth and bending the facts to give the illusion of success. Mr. Schneider won’t live long enough to see consumer acceptance. Therefore, he and his colleagues need to spin the issues and make goofy claims regarding the “rollout”. The rest of the world sits back and watches their show and roll their eyes and hold their noses (and ears). Good luck with that Mr. Schneider as you will continue to need plenty of it.

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