Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Telecom Authority In Doubt About DAB

Going for FM together with Internet digital radio in Sweden

In the government consultation about public service the telecom authority Post- och telestyrelsen (PTS) is questioning any extra public service funding for a DAB implementation. Any decision on this cannot be made before there is proof of any demand and need for digital sound broadcasting in Band III (174-240 MHz) in Sweden.  PTS says that the Public service commission is lacking on this; the real demand of the consumers and the need for a digital transition for sound broadcasting.

PTS notes that there are no global standard for digital sound broadcasting. The only global sound broadcasting standard is FM. PTS points out the enormous breakthrough for ip-based technology which includes moving images and sound. PTS regards web based digital radio as an important complement to FM radio.

PTS underscores the large coverage area of FM-transmitters also with regional subareas. This is especially important during emergencies or catastrophic situations. There will be large costs to transfer the robustness and the flexibility of the present FM network to a digital network.

PTS also points out that FM radio is harmonized all over the world and no country has decided to close the analogue sound broadcasting spectrum 87,5-108 MHz.  PTS says that it is not likely that other kind of services will be harmonized in this spectrum. Also a digital multiplex system (as DAB) will be detrimental to small operators and may be an impediment for widening the program spectrum.

The telecom authority will support the development of the analogue sound broadcasting on 87,5-108 MHz by continuing to modify the planning parameters. Thus there will be more space for the radio companies on this band. Besides this, as today, the FM radio can be well  supplemented by web radio.

PTS also points out that if the 700 MHz band will be used for mobile phones in Sweden other bands must be found for digital terrestrial television. An alternative solution according to PTS would be Band III (174-240 MHz) today used for DAB.  The government has yet to decide on the national spectrum policy for Sweden. Finland has already reserved Band III for television instead of sound broadcasting.

Read the complete document (in Swedish) on the government web site.