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Worldcast Systems - Radio & TV Broadcast Solutions

Why Smart FM and How Does it Work?


SmartFM is a sophisticated algorithm that enables FM broadcasters to reduce energy costs by up to 40% without compromising on audio quality and coverage. This award-winning, world-patented innovation is based on over 60 years of experience in RF, signal processing and mobile measurement.

Project genesis

FM (Modulated Frequency) broadcasting, band II (87.5 MHz to 108 MHz), is one of the few standards adopted by all the countries in the world, with some variatons.

The adoption of a single worldwide standard has allowed manufacturers to develop very low-cost receivers, accessible even to the populations of emerging countries which as a logical consequence have adopted FM as an essential means of mass communication. FM technology was originally deployed in 1955 / 1956; standards and recommendations quickly established the technical rules defining the conditions of transmission and reception.

Today, other than in very exceptional cases, FM broadcasting stations transmit 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; this implies continuous operation of all the transmitters that make up the networks. The cost of energy is constantly increasing, and very unlikely to decrease or even stabilize in the short and medium term, constitutes an increasingly significant item in the management of operating expenses.

The WorldCast Systems team has conducted a study using different assumptions based on the technological evolution of transmitters and the actual performance of modern receivers in order to develop a breakthrough concept in the broadcast and qualitative analysis of an FM signal. 


The problem at hand

Reducing the operating costs of an FM network has been a focus of WorldCast Systems' R&D department for a long time. As a result, the ECRESO range of transmitters, designed and manufactured by the company, is among the most efficient in the world not only having lower power consumption but also in terms of reliability and integrated functions, thus reducing the electrical consumption of additional equipment such as RDS encoders at the site.

A transmitter is made up of different stages including one or more power blocks capable of supplying from a few watts to 10 kW, for standard models. The efficiency of a 10kW transmitter is about 75% (an average of the better transmitters on the market). This translates into a direct electrical power consumption of about 13.3 kW per hour, 24 hours a day. To this must be added indirect consumption, such as the forced ventilation of the transmitters' amplifier stages and a portion of the air conditioning of the premises housing the transmitters; these collateral costs are directly proportional to the dissipation of the transmitters, which is directly related to the output power of each transmitter.

Moreover, the reliability of a transmitter is also closely linked to the operating temperature of the power components (transistors): this reliability decreases according to a geometrical progression in relation to higher temperatures of the RF block (amplifier + supply).

Purely technological efforts have made it possible to significantly improve the efficiency of transmitters over years but it will not improve significantly beyond the current state, as the theoretical limits of physical optimization of components have almost been reached.

In order to obtain significant additional energy savings, the designers must therefore focus on the structural fundamentals of FM, by imagining a concept that combines the tremendous progress made by transmitters and receivers in terms of performance, with "intelligent" transmission management. This idea, which has many benefits, raises a major concern: the listening comfort of the listener cannot and must not be altered in any way. This is the achieved design goal of SmartFM.


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