Friday 7 June 2019

DAB Radio Should Be Removed from Frequency Band in Sweden

Obsolete system without future demand waste of frequency resources
The Swedish public service radio is well set for the future with its distribution via a robust FM network and mobile/fixed broadband. The choice, like Finland, completely remove DAB radio from VHF band III (172-240 MHz) should be easy says the Public Service Council (PSR) in its consultation response to the investigate report Radio spectrum use in the future - Frequencies in the service of society. The PSR can in all respects support the investigation analysis for continued importance of the FM network which for emergency and security policy reasons cannot be replaced by other systems for EAS (Emergency Alert System).

Everything points to the fact that the DAB system will not be able to develop globally as an alternative to FM radio - or for that matter radio via broadband. Therefore, there are no sustainable socio-economic reasons to secure shared space for DAB in VHF band III. On the contrary, this would mean a waste of frequency resources writes PSR.

A decision to remove DAB from VHF band III puts an end to the system in Sweden because DAB can only be broadcast in this band. But this does not mean that Sweden cannot digitize future terrestrial radio if needed. This can be done today on existing audio radio bands on frequencies below 108 MHz but with other systems as DRM and HD Radio.

With a perspective of ten years, a likely future scenario is that radio (broadcasting) will be transmitted both analogously and digitally on these lower frequency bands (VHF band II and lower). IP-based radio broadcasts for a mass audience (broadcast) will be via 4G and 5G preferably on the 700-800 MHz bands (LTE Broadcast, eMBMS). Broadcast test are already conducted today. The public service company in German Bavaria performs such test on 5G for both radio and television.

There are insufficient societal, technical and financial reasons to set aside a future frequency space for the DAB system in Sweden, says PSR. The Government should therefore, without unnecessary delay, decide on a plan for the VHF band III to be transferred for social-economic and strategic useful purposes such as the Swedish Armed Forces, emergency preparedness services and for scientific use (space research EISCAT) as early as 2021.

The need to maintain television (DVB-T) in VHF band III is also decreasing, most recently this is happening in Western Europe. In Belgium, the public service television leaves its terrestrial network. In Switzerland, the terrestrial network ceased completely on June 1 this year. It is replaced by distribution via the Internet, satellite and cable.

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