Monday 24 February 2014

First Broadcast in Sweden with New Digital Radio Technology

DRM+ Enables Digitalization in the FM Band
Today the first transmissions with the new digital radio system DRM+ went on-air in the Stockholm region. The test trial is run with a DRM+ transmitter on the 97.0 MHz FM band with a power of 500 Watts. The first six months test trials are made in consultation with the Post- and Telecom Authority in Sweden (PTS).

Operating this trial is Digital Radio Sweden (DRS) a neutral, non-commercial and non-political organisation, which objective is to present alternative or complementary technologies to DAB.  DRS will make it possible for the government to take decisions based on solid facts when it comes to a future transition from analogue to digital radio. The aim is to broaden the general knowledge about digital radio. Today DAB is often believed to be equivalent to “digital radio". But digital radio is a common concept for digital distribution technologies for wireless broadcasting. DAB is just one of four internationally recognized standards. 

We consider it important to invest in technology that is future proof and optimal also for small-scale broadcasters such as local commercial or community radio stations, says DRS in a press release. Furthermore, it is important to efficiently utilize the limited resources of the frequency spectrum.  DRS wants to safeguard public expenditure and consumer interests and promote efficient spending of public funds (taxes and/or TV licenses).

Today there are 52 radio channels for public radio, commercial radio and community radio on the FM band in the Stockholm metropolitan area. With a complete digitalization with the DRM+ system the capacity will be approximately 200 channels. However, DRM+ also enables a step-by-step digitalization with both analogue and digital channels side by side.

DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) is a technical system developed on a European level much later than the DAB system which was first tested in Sweden 1991. DRM is the only system for wireless audio broadcasting suitable for all radio bands. DRM30 is for frequencies below 30 MHz (shortwave, medium wave and long wave) and DRM+ higher than 30 MHz
up to 240 MHz (Band I-III). DAB can only be used on the highest frequencies (Band III).
DRM+ trials have before this trial been run in seven European countries as well as in SriLanka and Brazil.

Sweden will take a decision on DAB+ radio 2015 but the government has decided that the stakeholders should finance such a new infrastructure by their own means "on market terms" which means that there will be no state funding (taxes or tv license fees). Also the government has concluded that DAB+ is not a suitable system for small-scale broadcaster and have asked the media authorities to not later than 2016 find an alternative solution for community radio.

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