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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

It's About Traffic Not HD Radio


There's been a  lot of buzz lately about GM removing HD radio from automobiles. Strategy Analytics Associate Director Robert Lanctot says the radio industry needs to calm down about the conspiracy theories because this is not a precursor to GM doing away with the AM/FM dial altogether. In his latest blog, Lanctot says, "The real news flash from the HD Radio end of the dial is that just as many new GM ?platforms? are adding HD Radio as are dropping ? so the net is no change and the long-term outlook is for continued broad-based deployment. But the news of the tweak in availability for the Impala highlights a bigger issue playing out in increasingly digital dashboards: access to traffic information."

Lanctot says GM and every other OEM have tough decisions to make regarding traffic information strategy. " If I were dialing in my traffic strategy, the last thing I?d do is delete an information resource that was more or less free of charge. The most readily available, and usually free, traffic information service is the one accessible via the broadcast signal ? the radio.  Car radios deliver traffic information via broadcast announcers sharing the observations of spotters and government supported data feeds, and via side-band or digital signals (RDS-TMC/analog or T-PEG/digital)."
"In North America, the means of delivering traffic information includes digital and analog broadcast signals (the car radio), SiriusXM satellite radio (subscription based and using existing radio hardware) and IP-based delivery (via an embedded modem or connected smartphone).  Aside from the satellite delivery, the same communication channels are available in Europe and other overseas markets. Examples of IP-delivered traffic include apps such as Waze or INRIX, along with a host of others including HERE and Beat the Traffic and Google.  In fact, the lack of digital radio channels ? as in the case of Europe ? has caused automakers such as Audi to send the T-PEG traffic information (which is too large for the analog channel) via embedded cellular connections." Lanctot adds HD Radio is capable of delivering another source of traffic information based on the T-PEG standard, though GM has not implemented this capability yet. "This traffic information is capable of enhancing on-board navigation and route guidance." And with more people on the road, and traffic at an all-time high, this topic is certainly going to keep GM and other car manufacturers very busy for years to come.

Read Lanctot's detailed explanation about what's going on with GM, HD Radio and traffic information sources HERE

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