HCJB World Radio launching digital radio

By October 6, 2004

International (HCJB) — The future of shortwave and AM radio has arrived. It’s called Digital Radio Mondial (DRM), and HCJB World Radio is at the forefront of this new broadcast technology. Analog broadcasting in the AM and shortwave bands can sometimes be difficult to listen to because of fading, static and interference. DRM has the same listening range as analog shortwave and AM, but improves the listener experience by broadcasting in “near FM” quality audio and providing enhanced program options such as data services.

HCJB World Radio is developing DRM technology for its broadcast transmitters as well as for transmitters manufactured by other broadcast companies. Engineers at the HCJB World Radio Engineering Center in Elkhart, Ind., and in Quito, Ecuador, have been breaking new ground in the development of the digital transmission technology by designing and building the computers and transmitter equipment necessary for broadcasting digital signals.

In 2000, together with the DRM consortium (an organization of broadcasters, network operators, equipment manufacturers and regulatory bodies), HCJB World Radio successfully conducted transmission tests from its transmitter site in Pifo, Ecuador. This summer missionary engineers in Pifo began installing equipment in anticipation of commencing digital shortwave broadcasting. HCJB World Radio is waiting for a frequency assignment from CONARTEL (the Ecuadorian agency that governs radio) to begin DRM broadcasting in the tropical shortwave band from Pifo.

More than 60 radio stations worldwide are broadcasting in DRM, and HCJB World Radio hopes to begin limited digital broadcasting from its Pifo transmitter site in the near future, and will add full digital broadcasting from HCJB World Radio-Australia’s shortwave facility in Kununurra at a later date.

The ministry doesn’t expect many digital shortwave listeners initially because of the high cost of the special DRM-capable receivers. But as the technology becomes more common, prices are expected to drop. By helping to push technology forward, HCJB World Radio is demonstrating its commitment to making sure that all the people of the world can hear the gospel in a language they can understand through radio — whether via local FM, AM or shortwave.

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