DAB should replace FM radio by 2020, despite current lack of interest

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roberts_stream_202_silver_dab_wi-fi_radio_2.jpgAs if there wasn’t enough to deal with in switching over TV from analogue to digital, there’s a new recommendation in town: that DAB radio is the format of choice for radio and should replace FM broadcasts by 2020.

That’s according to an interim report by The Digital Radio Working Group, which suggests that DAB should be the primary way of delivering digital radio because the UK has a well-developed DAB market, and it can be freely received once appropriate equipment is purchased.

The report states that it’s too expensive for broadcasters to transmit programmes in both analogue and digital, but the move to digital must be made wherever possible because analogue radio “risks becoming increasingly irrelevant, particularly to young listeners, as consumers’ expectations for interactivity, quality and choice grow.”

Plenty needs to happen before DAB exclusivity is viable. For a start, only about 90% of the UK population can currently receive DAB. Less than one in five people currently listens to DAB radio, and in addition, there’s very low take-up of DAB receivers in cars – one of the most popular places to listen to radio.

Local radio services would be able to continue to use the FM spectrum, as it’s currently more cost effective. Additionally, radio stations on the AM spectrum would be moved to FM. Though the 2020 date is mentioned, the Group realises that it’s impractical to set a firm deadline when there are so many factors to iron out.

I can’t help wondering if DAB will still be a relevant technology by the time we reach the end of the next decade. It’s likely to be much cheaper for broadcasters to stream programmes over the Internet, and I’d expect to see many more standalone devices capable of picking up Internet radio.

Interim Report (via Gizmo Hacker)

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Andy Merrett

3 comments

  • DAB is of no practical use – My battery personal dab radio flattens batteries within two hours ( batteries in my cheap AM/FM personal radio last for weeks not hours).  Reception in a strong signal area is impossible at ground level, the sound cuts out 50% of the time.   My other Dab radio is a “Hi-Fi tuner”  the problem is – DAB is not a HI-Fi system and the tuner sounds terrible.  MW or LW sounds better then DAB.   DAB is not progress , DAB is the result of too much wasted money and no one wanting to admit that DAB was a mistake and is a dead duck.

  • DAB is of no practical use – My battery personal dab radio flattens batteries within two hours ( batteries in my cheap AM/FM personal radio last for weeks not hours).  Reception in a strong signal area is impossible at ground level, the sound cuts out 50% of the time.   My other Dab radio is a “Hi-Fi tuner”  the problem is – DAB is not a HI-Fi system and the tuner sounds terrible.  MW or LW sounds better then DAB.   DAB is not progress , DAB is the result of too much wasted money and no one wanting to admit that DAB was a mistake and is a dead duck.

  • DAB is useless , poor battery life on portables, poor reception, and worst of all the dead, lifeless stereo sound (you don’t have to be a hi-fi nut to notice how poor DAB is). Fm is far sweeter. DAB was developed in the 1980s and was a very early digital system. It is now long in the tooth and supreceded by better digital systems. Quality radio programming is what people want , DAB’s advantage is it can supply more channels, most of which are minority poor quality content therefore DAB loses all round.

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