Looks like HD Radio and satellite may be getting some new competition soon. Ludwig Enterprises, a Nevada-based technology company with regional offices in Miami has acquired license rights for a revolutionary new method of broadcasting technology that attaches 50 new digital broadcast channels to an existing FM radio signal. This technology will allow Ludwig to contractually acquire the right to utilize currently issued FM radio station spectrum with minimal regulatory requirements. The company intends to deploy this technology in the top 50 markets.
Programming will consist of 24 hour a day programs in such languages as Chinese, Pakistani, Russian, Hebrew and others. Additionally there will be a limited number of specialty channels focusing on old time radio programs, readings of local and national newspapers, specialty music channels including jazz and music forms not played on conventional stations, and educational programming.
We spoke to Ludwig CEO Patrick Greenish about how the technology works and his rollout plans to retailers:
So you are saying each market will host up to 50 different “stations” or channels, delivered over FM stations in each market?
“That’s correct. Remember, this is subscriber-based and will be much cheaper than XM or Sirius. It is all-digital.”
Are you using the HD Radio spectrum of first-adjacent channels to the analog main signals?
“No, it uses the SCA spectrum of the main stations’ frequency. We will need between one and three stations in each market. I wish I could share more with you, and will when we have the patent done. It takes advantage of some new technology that’s been around for a while and only became available in the past couple of years. This is a culmination of about 10 years of work. It is the ability to take an existing frequency and divide it into a minimum of 50 channels. We will garner the accord of different stations around the country, and once we do, the device will have the intelligence to be able to pick up these different frequencies and be identical to an XM or Sirius receiver.”
Greenish adds, “The normal frequency restrictions of the bands will no longer apply.”
This sounds like Ultrawideband, which we’ve written about before with a company called Multispectral Solutions in Germantown, MD. It is a transmission method by which the content is delivered in pulses across a spectrum of frequencies—always using unused bandwidth.
“You could think of it as Ultrawideband if you want. But the marketing aspect is to create a national network of different niche content channels—ethnic, gays/lesbians, right-wing Christians, etc–across each of the Top 50 markets. We will start with foreign language channels and will offer advertising. We don’t want to compete with the host stations we will be contracting with.”
Tell us about the receivers people will need.
“We’ve got some tentative distribution agreements with some large box stores. We will be subsidizing the purchase price, initially. It will have a GPS chip in it and it is quite an intelligent device. It will look like an iPod/PDA/iPhone with a touch screen on it. It will display text messages with the name of the song that’s playing or an advertising text message that could provide data to the listener from right down the street—come to Joe’s Pizza on 5th street for a free coupon. It allows national coverage, but it allows very local target marketing. This does not need a FCC license.”
These devices will not have speakers, but will broadcast to an FM radio over unused frequencies, like iPods and satellite radio can do. It has the same docking mechanism as an iPod. It uses a chargeable battery or AC adapter.
BizNet.com has approached them with financial content. The NY Opera is also interested in a national network of Classical stations. A group from New York is also looking at establishing a national network with their ethnic content.
November is the target date for launch.
RBR/TVBR observation: This GPS technology is particularly interesting for the local advertisers. It’s probably good that Greenish is starting with ethnic programming that won’t compete with the host stations. The advertising capabilities of this system might make some stations think twice about hosting the service if they thought it would compete with them for ad dollars. Perhaps the host stations will want to air their own signal over one of the 50 channels and play with the GPS targeting.