Wednesday 13 June 2018

Defense System Conflict Another DAB Scandal in Norway

NATO can override national DAB radio frequencies.
Thousands of ordinary Norwegian citizens aren’t the only ones frustrated and dissatisfied after Norway’s forced transition to DAB radio. It meant shutting down FM radio, and now NATO may find itself in conflict with the civilian DAB frequencies it was granted for exercises in Norway. Nagging problems and conflicts continue to arise.  Politicians and authorities were reportedly warned before they imposed DAB on the civilian population that it could cause problems in crisis situations.                      (Picture: Aftenposten)

Newspaper Aftenposten reported on Tuesday that civilian radio and the military use the same frequency of 225-245 MHz. NATO had long ago pointed to that frequency as its own when Norway decided to switch from FM to DAB and Norway’s national communications authority (Nkom) allocated space on the network.

It’s worked fairly well until now, reports Aftenposten. With political tensions rising in Europe, widespread electronic warfare, major military exercises and the modern military’s dependence on moving enormous amounts of data, NATO has increased its pressure. NATO can now demand control of the DAB frequencies that were defined as its primary area. NATO also wants to exert its rights in moves that can come in direct conflict with public radio (NRK) radio stations and NATO’s military communication.

The biggest test will come this fall, when around 40,000 soldiers from 29 countries will take part in NATO’s huge military exercise called Trident Juncture. Asked whether there will be problems with radio communication, divisional director at Nkom John-Eiving Velure gave Aftenposten an “unconditional yes.” Per-Thomas Bøe, spokesman for the Norwegian defense department also confirmed that NATO can override civilian DAB radio if it needs to.
That means civilian radio broadcasts can be cut out, like they allegedly were during the NATO exercise Dynamic Guard outside Bergen in February.

If DAB is silenced over all or parts of the country, we have a gigantic problem, Per Morten Hoff, a former leader of IKT Norge and a high-profile critic of DAB, told Aftenposten. We have no alternative (since FM was shut down). That potential problem is among reasons why Sweden, for example, opted against converting to DAB.
John-Eiving Velure conceded that “if we had started from scratch today, and knew what we know now about the mobile network with 4G and 5G, it’s not certain we would have converted to DAB.”

Many ordinary Norwegians, forced to buy new DAB radios when the FM band was shut down, also continue to complain about the costs of the transition and that DAB radios don’t always operate as well as their old FM radios. DAB can also occasionally drop out, not least on car radios.  (

Read in the article in

Read the full story in Aftenposten (in Norwegian)

”Norway is invaded, NATO is entering, and parts of the population cannot be notified. Simplified, this is a conceivable scenario.”

There is also a full-page editorial commentary in Aftenposten by Joacim Lund. Adding to the upsetting news about the DAB-NATO conflict he is also denouncing of the DAB project overall. He writes that DAB was introduced with arguments that emergency alert system would be improved compared with FM. Now it is clear that it is the other way around.

Why should Norway be the first country to switch-off national FM and why this hurry? According to Lund the politicians did not know what they decided on. Sweden rejected a transition to DAB because the combination of FM and Internet for radio is working well. He also reminds us that a poll in the autumn 2017 showed that 60 % of the Norwegians were dissatisfied with the transition. 

Joacim Lund’s conclusion: DAB becomes increasingly difficult to defend, like the country.

Read the editorial commentary in Aftenposten (in Norwegian)

Also read
50 Percent of Norwegians Do Not Switch to DAB. Rather Stay on FM