As the only digital broadcasting technology authorized for use in the United States, HD Radio has gained a decent following since its first launch in 2003. However, despite the fact that a significant number of new cars are made with HD radio, many Drivers simply don’t know or care about the technology. It is not clear if this is due to the decline in radio communications in general or problems inherent in HD Radio technology.

But here are the five biggest hurdles HD Radio faces.

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Slow Acceptance

классический автомобильный радиоприемник
The slow adoption of HD broadcasting technology is a numbers game. The analog radio market is huge and lucrative, while vehicles equipped with HD radio tuners are still relatively small.

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HD radio has been around for a long time and is increasingly becoming the standard for new cars. In 2013, every third car sold included an HD Radio tuner. By 2019, that figure was over half. But how many people actually listen to HD radio compared to other media?

By comparison, in 2012, about 34 percent of Americans reported listening to internet radio, including services like Pandora, as well as online AM and FM stations. Only 2 percent reported listening HD Radio .

Another problem is the slow adoption of HD Radio broadcasting technology by stations. If you live in an area with good HD radio coverage, then this is not a problem. For those who live in areas served by multiple HD radios, this technology may not exist.

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Automakers leave radio

подключенный автомобиль
Some of the manufacturers have indicated that they want to move away from radio and towards connected cars.

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At one point, it seemed to be a wall-mounted entry for factory-installed radios. In the early 2010s, several automakers were reportedly planning to remove all types of radios from their dashboards by 2014. That didn’t happen, and the car radio appears to have received a reprieve, but the picture is still somewhat muddy.

The radio industry and iBiquity, the makers of HD Radio, are reportedly working with major automakers to keep radio tuners in car stereos, but if the biggest names in the auto industry decide to go the other way, then it might be for HD Radio.

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Broadcast interference

плохие соседи
Powerful HD radios don’t always make for the best neighbors.

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Because iBiquity in-band-on-channel (IBOC) technology works, stations that choose this technology transmit their analog signals with two digital «sidebands» below and above their assigned frequency.

If the power allocated to these sidebands is high enough, it can hit frequencies directly above or below, causing interference. When this happens, it can block users from listening to neighboring stations.

This has always been a problem for HD Radio, as powerful broadcasters cause reception problems for weaker or more distant stations.

In the same way that digital sidebands can merge into adjacent frequencies, they can also interfere with their own analog signal. This is a big problem because one of the main advantages of IBOC is that it allows digital and analog signals to use the same frequency.

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Nobody knows what HD radio is

прослушивание автомобильного радио
AM/FM, XM, HD, whatever. The numbers show that most people care more about just listening to music than alphabet soup.

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Many people do not know what HD radio is and do not confuse it with satellite radio . Others are simply not interested due to the wide availability internet radio , streaming music and podcasts .

According to original survey in 2010, during the initial promotion of HD Radio, interest never exceeded 8 percent . This is rather unfortunate considering the fact that by the end of this period the radio industry itself was experiencing moderate growth .

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Nobody asked for HD radio

кто это просил?
The biggest question about HD radio: who even asked it?

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The cold and hard truth may be that HD Radio is a format in search of an audience that never asked for it.

FROM FCC approval HD Radio in 2002, all iBiquity cards seemed to be able to make money in the new market. But the rise of streaming media, Internet radio, podcasts and other sources of information has proven to be a serious competitor.

HD Radio is an interesting piece of technology worth checking out if you’re into radio. If not, there are plenty of competing in-car entertainment out there that are worth your time.

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