Monday 11 March 2019

Mandatory DAB for Receivers in New Cars Might Kill Radio

Slanted lobby facts are confusing manufacturers and consumers

The all-electric cars are much around the corner. Volvo has presented its new all-electric car which will be produced in China next year. Polestar 2 is one of the first cars in the world to embed an infotainment system powered by Android.  -  A Connected Car will not be hit by the regulating efforts to force DAB radio into new cars as long it is not also equipped with a stand-alone in-car radio.

The Android backbone in Polestar 2 is said to provide a solid and adaptable digital environment for apps and vehicle functions to coexist, and brings embedded Google services to a car for the first time – including the Google Assistant, Google Maps with support for electric vehicles and the Google Play Store5. Natural voice control and a new 11-inch touch screen display bring the new interface to life. The system can be connected to a smartphone also outside the car. The system is also adaptable to Apple Play for iOS users.

However, there is no standardized place on the dashboard in a Connected Car for any kind of in-car terrestrial radio i.e. FM and DAB. This will be a problem for broadcasters and regulators. But will this problem upset any car owner?


The European Electronics Communications Code (EECC) is now including a provision that any radio equipment integrated in a new car which is put on the market for sale or rent in the Union shall be capable of receiving digital terrestrial radio broadcasting. This might be a step forward for the DAB system, but technical developments for mobile broadband might kill the whole setup.

It is explained that in case of technical regulations adopted by member states for the interoperability of consumer radio equipment, radio sets should be capable of receiving radio services provided via digital terrestrial radio broadcasting or via IP networks. Thus a  new stand-alone receiver should be equipped with FM and DAB OR with FM and Internet radio.

The definition of ”digital terrestrial radio” will also be challenged by operators of online radio via mobile broadband especially with the future LTE Broadcast system on 4G and 5G.

According to the the EECC (Article 113, Annex XI) Any car radio receiver integrated in a new vehicle of category M which is made available on the market for sale or rent in the Union from … [two years after the date of entry into force of this Directive] shall comprise a receiver capable of receiving and reproducing at least radio services provided via digital terrestrial radio broadcasting. Receivers which are in accordance with harmonised standards the references of which have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union or with parts thereof shall be considered to comply with that requirement covered by those standards or parts thereof. (Category M = passenger vehicle).

As mobile broadband 4G and 5G will be covering most of Europe within a decade there will be not much reason for car manufacturers to install in-car radio for FM and DAB in any new car as the connected car will be the standard. An Add-on in-car installation will of course be possible, but to a high cost for the consumer.  Will an in-car radio be installed behind the impressive hi-resolution 12,3 inch screen in a Polestar 2? Instead most drivers will prefer radio on-line with superior channel choice and sound quality.

Thus, by pushing EU in Brussels the DAB lobby might effectively kill both FM and DAB in future new cars. Still, new trucks all over Europe mightl roll on with FM only. However, car manufacturers is discovering that digital terrestrial radio is not "sexy any more" on a very limited market and will probably resist continued European lobby efforts to force DAB onto manufacturers and consumers.

Also read

DAB/DAB+: Autobauer drücken sich vor Pflicht von digitalem Radio (ComputerBase)

Mandatory Digital In-Car Radio Proposal. DAB Lobby Coup in Brussels
While Digital Radio Online Grow Rampant DAB Lobby Deceives Politicians
Will Internet Be a DAB Killer in Germany?