Longueuil’s FM 103,3 activates new transmitter with HD Radio

Former (pink) and new (black) transmitter locations and signal patterns for CHAA-FM 103,3

Montrealers equipped with HD Radios picked up a new signal this week, as 103.3 FM activated its new transmitter on Mount Royal and began testing.

The station, CHAA-FM, which serves Longueuil and south shore communities, was forced to move off of its previous transmitter location atop the Olympic Tower, and so applied for and was approved permission to move the transmitter to the CBC’s Mount Royal Antenna, which houses most of Montreal’s FM radio stations.

The new transmitter, which is both higher (284m vs 192m) and stronger (1.7kW vs 1.4kW max ERP), should improve the reception for most listeners.

The move, expected to cost around $200,000, was financed in part by a grant from the Quebec culture ministry last summer.

Éric Tetreault, general manager of FM 103,3, tells me the testing period began on June 11, and will continue for 20 days (so until the end of the month).

So far, there is only one HD channel, which simulcasts the analog signal, but Tetreault says there will be “new content” on HD2 and HD3 “if tests are conclusive.”

The community radio station joins Radio-Canada, Cogeco and Bell as stations broadcasting at least one signal using the proprietary HD Radio technology. Here’s what’s available over the air now:

CBF-HD (Radio-Canada) 95.1:

  1. ICI Première
  2. ICI Musique classique

CHAA-HD 103.3:

  1. FM 103,3

CFGL-HD (Cogeco) 105.7:

  1. Rythme FM

CITE-HD (Bell) 107.3:

  1. Rouge FM
  2. CJAD 800
  3. TSN Radio 690

WVPS-HD (VPR) 107.9:

  • Vermont Public Radio
  • VPR Classical
  • BBC World Service

7 thoughts on “Longueuil’s FM 103,3 activates new transmitter with HD Radio

  1. Dilbert

    For me, it would be a good idea for the CRTC to mandate that each one of these HD transmitters needs to make available at a nominal fee a channel for a community, native, or non-profit station, to give them better distribution at much lower costs than operating their own higher power transmitter.

    In a “full” marketplace, that could put a dozen or more channels available for the benefit of the public (which is what this is all about, right?). It might even give the CRTC the chance to approve more narrowly focused community stations, ethnic broadcasters, and the like.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      it would be a good idea for the CRTC to mandate that each one of these HD transmitters needs to make available at a nominal fee a channel for a community, native, or non-profit station, to give them better distribution at much lower costs than operating their own higher power transmitter.

      Considering HD Radio is still in an experimental stage in Canada, that would be premature and counterproductive. And HD Radio simply does not have enough receivers for it to replace an analog signal.

      Reply
      1. Dilbert

        It’s a chicken / egg thing: There aren’t that many receivers in no small part because there is little content and little demand as a result.

        My thought was to mandate this availability now, and for the moment use it as a second transmitter for existing community stations, giving them wider coverage and perhaps encouraging buyers into the HD system. As HD becomes more prevalent, the CRTC could add more stations to this category.

        For what it’s worth, I think that CBC should be mandated to use HD radio to offer alternate language programming where it is not available. In places where they are not broadcasting in French, example, the french CBC main network could be put on an HD channel.

        There are plenty of use cases, and the CRTC could be “out front” here. I know it’s not like them, but it would be nice!

        Reply
        1. Fagstein Post author

          Keep in mind we went down this path with Digital Audio Broadcasting. The commission probably wants to avoid a repeat of that catastrophe, and going all in so early and imposing mandatory rules on broadcasters doesn’t sound like a great way to do so.

          Reply
  2. Anonymous

    I had done a HD Seek on my little Insignia HD Radio. And to my surprise it locked onto CHAA 103.3 FM. At first I thought it was a false lock. But, to my surprise, they have a HD Radio signal for that station.

    Their sync between the analog, and digital signal is off though. So, for those that loose the digital lock, and the radio bounces back to the analog signal, this can be very annoying. Very, very annoying. There is about a 3 secs difference between the two signals. I would think that should be their priority to fix first. And fast.

    I’m a little surprised that such a small station would pull the trigger and go for a HD Radio signal. When stations such as CBM-FM 93.5, and CHOM-FM 97.7 still have done nothing about activating a HD Radio signal.

    As a side note, for those that want a home HD Radio home / office units. amazon.ca has a few models.

    – All SPARC radios are HD Radio ready.
    – SANGEAN has about four models. They all start with a HDR in their series name.
    Sangean is known for making great tuners.
    – VQ Radios have several models. (Mini-Retro, Christie, Monty models).
    – INSIGNIA has a model as well. But the best price for this one is over at Best Buy USA.

    There is also myhdradio.ca which carries only the SPARC models. Not sure they have the best prices though. I think amazon.ca has better prices, but not all the SPARC models.

    Reply
    1. Fagstein Post author

      I’m a little surprised that such a small station would pull the trigger and go for a HD Radio signal. When stations such as CBM-FM 93.5, and CHOM-FM 97.7 still have done nothing about activating a HD Radio signal.

      If you’re getting a new transmitter anyway, why not? CHOM-FM hasn’t made any technical changes recently, so there hasn’t really been a need to install an HD Radio transmitter. CBM-FM has actually been authorized for HD Radio, but CBC is experimenting with data services, not additional audio channels.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        For my personnel curiosity…I’ve been looking into the technical docs over at Hdradio.com, plus some very interesting webinars over at Youtube by Nautel on HD Radio. Also, Nautel has HD Radio .pdf docs that can be searched on the web.

        So, I just want to give you a bit of info concerning the possibilities of the tech. And not to accept the CBC’s answer, about not activating their HD Radio audio streams for CBM-FM 93.5.

        1 – The technology can do both. Offer audio channels, plus Data channels in visual / non-visual forms. Some of the current services out their involve Traffic Data, and Weather Data. I read that Corus was testing the Traffic data on their Hamilton station that has activated HD Radio.

        2 – The current HD Radio structure offers 120 kbits. This is on two partitions at this point in time. Partition 1 is 96kbits. And Partition two is 24kbits.

        The audio channels can be assigned as follows.
        HD1 (32 – 64 kbits), HD2 (24 – 48 kbits), HD3 (24-32 kbits), HD4 (24kbits). A 24 kbits seems to be a mono audio stream.

        So, lets look at CBF-FM 95.1. They currently offer 2 HD Radio audio streams. They both sound about equal in quality. So, I assume they are being used on partition one. 2 x 48kbits = 96 kbits. That still leaves another 24kbits on partition two. Data testing can be offered and done on that if they wish to do so.

        So, if we go back to the CBC’s response on CBM-FM 93.5 fm. If they just offered one audio stream on HD1 at the highest rate 64kbits. They would still have another 32kbits on partition one, and the 24kbits on partition two to run their data tests.

        So, if the opportunity comes up for you to further look into or question them about activating HD Radios on CBM-FM, I hope the above info will help you to fine tune your questions towards them.

        Reply

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