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Ofcom DAB switchover coverage planning proposals

Ofcom has recently published some details of how the DAB network can be improved to match the coverage of the current FM network.

Ofcom has recently published some details of how the DAB networ
published on UK Free TV

The proposals cover the most pressing needs for the DAB network:

  • provision of local radio DAB for those areas with no current coverage
  • coverage of both homes and in-car use
  • the addition of a new block (5A) that will allow the local radio blocks to expand to fill the "editorial" coverage areas to match the current FM areas
  • the use of 99%/99% DAB prediction for indoor home reception, and normal car use.


Of particular interest are:



Ofcom is asking for responses using this online form: Responding to the DAB Coverage Planning consultation by 5pm on 14 September 2011.

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Comments
Monday, 4 July 2011
S
Steve
sentiment_satisfiedGold

4:18 PM

I still don't know what problem DAB is supposed to solve. Seems like technology for its own sake.

After all, digital radio is ALREADY broadcast nationwide on DTB

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Steve's 1,172 posts GB
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Dave
sentiment_satisfiedSilver

12:56 AM

You can't compare digital (DAB) radio with digital tv..FM should never be replaced but the BBC should vacate most of their frequencies to DAB - how about that ??!

It urks me that the beeb hog most of the FM band so this is why we have such a limited choice of stations compared with other European countries

If you look on you tube on various FM bandscans you'll see a totally different sounding station every 0.5Mhz at least right from 87.5 to 108 mhz

Something we will never enjoy here


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Dave's 125 posts GB
T
Trevor Harris
sentiment_satisfiedGold

12:27 PM

@Dave

Actually Dave you raise an interesting point. The problem we have in this country is that most of the commercial stations sound exactly the same. The reason is that most are run by large commercial groups and are not independent of each other. These groups are only interested in making money and so stick to a formula to do that. In my youth I use to listen to a pirate station called "Radio Jackie". They only ran adverts from local business and all the programs were locally orientated. It was very successfull gaining a very large audience and raising lots of money for local charities. It is legal now after buying up a failing commercial station.

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Trevor Harris's 367 posts GB
M
Mark
sentiment_satisfiedSilver

6:49 PM

@ Trevor Harris

Your figures for DAB costs are way out of date because Arqiva was forced to slash its prices as part of the deal for the merger with NGW.

By its own admission the BBC will need 404 transmitters in total to serve 97.2% of the population (230 are needed to serve 93.8%).

The BBC doesn't agree with the 99.1% figure quoted by Ofcom for "good FM coverage" of Radio 2 - their own figure for non-hissy reception on a portable is somewhere around 98.3%.

Some more transmitters will be needed to fill the last 1.1% (from 97.2 up to 98.3) but clearly they will not be building 600 further transmitters for this, particularly with the self-interference issue.

The coverage of BBC local radio on FM is only around 90% (in some areas it's hovering around 80%) and the estimated cost to achieve this coverage on DAB is £30 million. There is agreement in principle for the Government, commercial radio and the BBC to each pay £10 million towards this.

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Mark's 181 posts GB
T
Trevor Harris
sentiment_satisfiedGold

7:44 PM

The deal with Arqiva applies to both FM and DAB transmitters and so the relative costs still apply.

All my figures are estimates because even the BBC has not estimated what the costs will be for 99% coverage.

Until Ofcom completes its study we will not really know what 99% means.

The estimate of 1000 transmitters is taken from the independent report for the BBC to which I refered. A BBC manager said it would be between 400 and 600 but you cannot trust anything a BBC manager says.

DAB would have to be implemented with 430 transmitters to cost the same FM.

The latest document from the BBC is calledBBC National DAB Network Coverage
& Indicative Expansion Plans. Worth googling as it gives some coverage maps aned reveals enormous areas of the UK without ant DAB coverage.

In section 1.1 the Ofcom document says

'to provide the information to allow for a well-informed decision by Government on whether to proceed with a radio switchover'

This means that the Government might abandon to switchover. As I said in my posts I do not believe that coverage is the main issue as the take up of DAB has been very small even in areas of good coverage. Even with 99% coverage the switchover will not happen and I think the Government is begining to realize this.

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Trevor Harris's 367 posts GB
M
Mark
sentiment_satisfiedSilver

8:10 PM

I think 430 transmitters for the BBC national network is realistic for around 98% coverage - that's 26 more than 97.2% coverage with the BBC doing some more planning work with existing sites.

The switchover will happen when 50% of all radio listening is digital, that much is clear. Even at the current rate of growth the trend line shows that this threshold will be breached in 2018, which gives us a 2020 switchover date (there is a two year notice period).

However there is one further factor - hardly anyone has DAB fitted in the car up to now, but Ford will fit DAB as standard in all of its new models by the end of 2012 (other manufacturers will follow suit). Therefore a large number of cars on the road in 2020 will have DAB fitted as standard.

A 2020 DSO for radio is a very realistic prospect, especially with 98% coverage of the BBC national mux and 90% coverage of the local multiplexes (to include all major roads).

In general people are not opposed to DAB, they are opposed to the gurgling sound caused by poor quality reception. If that's remedied as outlined in Ofcom's document the opposition to a radio DSO will fade away.

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Mark's 181 posts GB
M
Mark
sentiment_satisfiedSilver

8:18 PM

@ Trevor Harris

"The latest document from the BBC is called BBC National DAB Network Coverage
& Indicative Expansion Plans. Worth googling as it gives some coverage maps and reveals enormous areas of the UK without any DAB coverage."

It actually shows nothing of the sort. The white areas are generally sparsely populated areas in Wales & Scotland and the document reveals that 93.8% of the population will have indoor coverage by the end of 2011.

Since when has 6.2% of the population constituted "enormous areas without coverage"?


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Mark's 181 posts GB
Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Dave
sentiment_satisfiedSilver

2:44 AM

Trevor Harris

Btw I was meaning FM bandscans from other countries obviously ie one from Sofia in Bulgaria was very varied ;-)

Yes all we have now are mostly networks now - the heart stations are dreadful, I was pleased that for a long long time Radio Mercury in Crawley was still independant from other hearts but eventually my worse fears was realized yes it had had the 'stepford' treatment ! A great different sounding station now yet another b***** heart station...being an FM-DXer it makes ID'ing impossible also !!

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Dave's 125 posts GB
S
Steve
sentiment_satisfiedGold

9:23 AM

Mark - "Area" is measured in square miles, not head of population.

I am in no way "opposed to DAB".

I am opposed to loss of FM making all my devices with integrated FM redundant.

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Steve's 1,172 posts GB
M
Mike Dimmick
sentiment_very_satisfiedPlatinum

10:59 AM

Dave: The irony is that the move to DAB is intended to free up the FM band for more local stations. There is actually nothing else that can reasonably use VHF Band II - the band's entire width is only 20.5 MHz, which is about the same as ONE WiFi channel in a/b/g mode. 802.11n can be configured to use twice the width, 40 MHz.

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Mike Dimmick's 2,486 posts GB
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