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Digital Britain Report: radio

Let's start with DAB, digital audio broadcasting, or radio to its friends

Let's start with DAB, digital audio broadcasting, or radio to i
published on UK Free TV

Yes, yes, I know. Funny place to start. I don't write about anything for months on UK FREE TV and then I start with Chapter 3b, "Radio: Going Digital".

In some ways this is the best part of the report, because it actually has made a decision. A date has been set for the "radio upgrade". From "2015", all current FM services will close and broadcast on DAB only. All LW and MW services will migrate to DAB also, all at once on a single day.

The services will remain DAB, and not DAB+, DMB-A or DRM, as the Digital Britain report's dismisses about other standards as they "give too much regard to technologies and too little to the real drivers of change, the listener". Spin on that.

So, DAB is going to be a platform of choice over quality as the internet will be used to deliver high-quality streams to those that want them. The 9 million existing receivers will work for the foreseeable future.

Having made the decision on the format and decided on a switch-off date, the next way-point on the journey is obvious - get the BBC to extend everyone's DAB coverage to that of the current FM networks by the end of 2014.

Then - all car radios to be digital ("WorldDMB receiver profile") then by 2013. Then the digital tick scheme is extended to these in-car radios (and DAB is integrated into Sat-Nav).

The big problem here is that six-years is a reasonable time-scale to replace millions of radio sets and thousands of transmitters, but a long time to keep broadcasting on a legacy system is you are a small commercial radio station.

There is nothing particularly wrong with DAB that a better transmitter network and power-saving receivers won't sort out.

Yes, it is going to be very annoying to have all those BBC music radio stations with not enough bitrate.

However we do now really have the possibility of mobile phones with proper DAB. With pause. And rewind. All in RAM. There will be an EPG, with a record facility. Won't there?



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