If I had to pick, one of the most egregious things about HD Radio™ is the fact that it is a proprietary system. Ibiquity owns the licenses for the IBOC HD Radio™ technology. If the FCC were to force radio stations to convert to all digital transmission, like they did with TV, then one corporation would then own the modulation method for all of the radio stations in the country. It would also own all of the secondary (HD2 and HD3) channels by virtue of the password protected software and would, as current contracts are being written, be allowed to inspect the books any time they want.
This could lead to some very interesting situations, especially if Ibiquity chose to flex some muscle regarding programming content, formats, music, politics, news coverage, or what have you. Lets not forget, Ibiquity’s investors are large broadcasting companies like Clear Channel, Cumulus, Citadel, Univision, and so on. Smaller broadcasting companies could likely get caught in a go along to get along situation.
If you have never played with an HD Radio™ exciter, let me tell you, everything is locked down. Every function needs a password from Ibiquity and there is no way around it.
Ibiquity’s proponents dismiss this concern and continue to say “Just wait until the patent expires, then it will be an open system.” Except that the “patent” is not going to expire. Ibiquity owns 70 patents for their IBOC system. Only one patent needs to be in effect for the HD Radio™ system to remain proprietary. The last patent was issued on May 10, 2010. Ibiquity simply needs to make some small change, update, or tweak and they can file for a new patent, which will add another 10 years. This can continue indefinitely.
The patent is not going to expire.