The Digital Radio Era (Partially) Ends In Ireland

It’s commonly agreed that the future of broadcast radio lies in the eventual replacement of AM and FM analogue transmissions with digital services. A wide range of technologies exist to service this change-over, and for much of the world the most visible of them has been Digital Audio Broadcasting, or DAB. This VHF service has slowly increased in popularity to the extent that in some countries the FM or AM switch-off process has already happened or is well under way. It’s thus a surprise to hear a piece of news from a country that’s going the other way, as the Irish broadcaster RTÉ is about to turn off its national DAB multiplex.

The reason cited is cost-effectiveness, the take up of DAB in the Republic by listeners is low (Northern Ireland having the UK multiplexes instead), and that the broadcaster is the only one maintaining a national multiplex. Our Irish friends tell us that as in other parts of the world the rural coverage can be patchy, and with only RTÉ and no commercial stations on offer it’s easy to see why the allure of a DAB set is lacking.

In case anyone is tempted to prophecy the demise of digital broadcasting from this news, that’s not the real story. This is simply an abandonment of DAB. Plenty of Irish people listen to the radio through digital media just as anywhere else, this is simply an indication that they’re choosing not to do so via DAB. The Irish DVB television multiplexes carry the same stations and more, and meanwhile, the inexorable rise of online listening through smart speakers and mobile phones has eaten DAB’s lunch. But it does raise the point for other places: when your mobile phone delivers any radio station or streaming service you desire and is always in your pocket, why would you want a radio?

For more on DAB including some of its shortcomings, a few years ago we took an in-depth look at the system.

Thanks [Laura] for the header image.

96 thoughts on “The Digital Radio Era (Partially) Ends In Ireland

        1. You don’t need to, these tin-foil-hatters don’t know the difference between a <5G tower and a 5G tower, so then they see all GSM towers as being potentially 5G and fair game.

    1. I’m afraid that’s only true for oldschool radio. Where you have a transmit tower just beside a broadcast studio and a generator for backup. Then, with AM, you can cover a whole country.

      But nowadays a modern radiostation will go offline faster as the GSM Network, in case of an earthquake.
      Attacking single towers is pointless, as there are too many of them.

    2. The issue is the mobile phone network can do down. If you don’t top up or pay the bill then no phone coverage. In a nuclear conflict or extreme solar storm, mobile, GPS and Internet will be wiped out. AM & FM radio will not be turned off in the near or not so near future. Government have to by law continue a medium that will work in a national or international disaster and that is what we call conventional radio and Radio Amateurs.

    3. What’s more… to stream a radio station I’m paying for the bandwidth needed for at least 32kbps (yes, you can do AAC at 16kbps, but it sounds **** awful… “Coles TAS” on channel 9A [DAB+ Brisbane 1] does this, 32kbps is the _bare_ minimum, preferably a station should use at least 64kbps) continuously, which doesn’t sound like much, but it can add up, and 4G quota is expensive. (32kbps for 86400 seconds = 345.6MB!)

      Plus, if anything disrupts your Internet connection (whatever it is), bye bye radio.

      For DAB+, I get by with an RTL-SDR, a 2m/70cm dual-band antenna, a Raspberry Pi 3, some amplified speakers and a small 12V wall wart. Software: I just use qt-dab to do the reception, and cron calls on amixer to make a crude alarm clock.

      Internet goes down, Pi3 says who cares and keeps on rocking.

      Personally, I think FM stereo outperforms DAB+ on a number of criteria:
      * receivers are simpler, therefore cheaper (DAB+ needs a crazy amount of DSP to work)
      * DAB+ due to its wide bandwidth brings the frustrating experience of antenna positioning from VHF television to radio.
      * in weak signal situations, FM will be “noisy” but DAB+ will be an un-listenable stutter.
      * there’s no audio compression artefacts in FM

      That said, one of the stations I listen to the most is receivable either on MW or DAB+… at work I tried using my old 1960s AM radio once and it screamed like a banshee. DAB+ at least works in that situation.

      A single-board computer + RTL-SDR is a good way to receive this too, because if they do shut it down, that same kit can be used for _lots_ of other radio services: no money wasted on a fancy one-trick pony.

  1. This is due to the network operator charging lots of money for the non state run stations to be on DAB platform (they also charge them for FM service) the other reason is that the coverage in the more rural areas was/is very patchy.

  2. I didn’t know DVB radio existed! That’s pretty cool!

    I can really see a strong appeal to the non-interactive nature of radio, but the actual content has gone downhill on most stations, so going digital and allowing more channels, hopefully some of which might be better, seems like a good thing for listeners.

    1. It exists, but it’s even patchier than DAB for mobile use. It’s nice when you’re home but most people already have internet or cable there.

      IMO the main usecase for radio is mobile/portable and for that DVB-T radio sucks :) There’s also no portable equipment that supports it, and probably no mobile either.

      1. There are DVB-T systems designed for large boats. I’m guessing cars move too quickly for DVB-T using it’s usual parameters. There is also DVB-H which is designed for handheld devices, and has been widely used in some parts of Asia.

        1. Cars have too much interference for DVB-T to work at all.

          I used to have an indoor antenna for DVB and I could stop the picture by flicking a piezo lighter, or even a light switch somewhere in the house. Keep clicking every two seconds and the picture remains frozen.

          1. I would not consider a spark-gap transmitter a “minor amount of interference”. You probably knocked out your wifi and your phone signal too, it just wasn’t as obvious.

  3. I have a DAB radio in my car and while I enjoy having a far greater selection of stations they mostly sound like crap! I leave the radio tuned to Planet Rock, the music keeps me happy but 80 Kbps Mono does not!

    1. DAB shares the same technical problems as DVB – in that the transmission isn’t robust. It doesn’t degrade gracefully and gradually. That’s not a problem with stationary receivers which in turn either work or not, but for cars and mobile applications where radio was still the king (duh), it was a total ****show.

      The promise that you would get good quality reception at longer distances (because digital doesn’t “fade”) lead to the broadcasters reducing transmission power to reduce cost and increase the possible number of radio “cells in a larger area, which may share frequencies without overlapping (see: edge coloring problem). The idea was more local stations, more ad revenue etc. This ended with the effect that DAB radio would only really work within a close distance to the transmitter, and out towards the edge of the reception – say you’re on a car trip between cities – at some point it would just start cutting in and out completely.

      Now, on a regular FM/AM radio, you’d get a little more hiss with every mile of distance, and the transmission fades when you go under a bride for example, but you can still follow the show. On DAB radio, as soon as you hit an invisible magical mile marker, the sound is just gone. It ONLY works within the city, and even there you can find shaded spots between buildings where the radio just doesn’t work.

      1. That’s not what they’re talking about. Sure, digital services either give you a perfect signal or none, but that’s just a matter of coverage (your smartphone is no different, and I don’t see widespread complaints about that in metropolitan areas these days…)

        No, the issue is the service providers were doing exactly what airlines have been doing with their legroom for years – you can cram more channels in if you reduce the bitrate on each one. So they crank it down as far as they think they can.

        And everyone using the service ends up suffering just *slightly* less than the maximum they can tolerate.

        1. It’s related, because the lower bitrate allows the signal to survive further out before it starts to cut out.

          The difference with my smartphone is that when the signal starts going down, my phone has redundant communication channels, so it rarely cuts off entirely. It just gets slower and the software can negotiate with the transmitting end to send less data. However, the software in my phone knows not to trust that the data rate or latency anyways, so it has buffered half the podcast in advance and I never even notice that the signal went down. Even when it cuts off, the show is getting buffered at the transmitting end, so I don’t miss anything. None of that is an option with DAB.

          Trying to transmit higher quality audio over DAB would move the threshold of the “digital cliff” where the sound turns into muddy burbles closer to the transmitter. You’re right in the sense that this is again question of money, but that I already mentioned, since the solution to the problem is increasing transmitting power which the broadcasters don’t want to do.

          1. But it does not help here, as like DVB-T, the channels are transmitted in a multiplex.
            So the transmit bandwidth stays the same 1.537MHz wide regardless of the channels.
            But if you lower the bitrate, you can stuff more channels in that 1.537MHz wide multiplex.

          2. >But it does not help here

            The multiplex is divided up into a certain number of capacity units, and those units can be used for the audio data OR the redundancy code, depending on your choice of the level of error correction, so however much data rate you assign to a channel, you have to choose whether to make it higher quality or more robust against transmission errors.

          3. ” In the UK, most services transmit using ‘protection level three’, which provides an average ECC code rate of approximately ½, equating to a maximum bit rate per multiplex of 1,184 kbit/s”

            Using a lower error correction rate does not directly affect the sound quality, so there is an incentive to use the least amount that still reaches your listeners, or rather, that balances the number of listeners who leave with the amount of extra advertising minutes you can sell by stuffing yet another channel into the mux.

            (PS. this is another reason why ad-funded services are an abomination. Not only are they making unrelated people pay for services they don’t consume, not only do they cause a tragedy of commons situation, what they do provide is inevitably total ****)

    2. You know, it’s funny how hard they worked, when CDs were created back in the early 80s, to ensure that the distortion was below human perception. Wind forward to the turn of the century, and the crap quality that people will accept is revealed. And now, at least when listening to streams at home I’d say the quality has gone up a little since then, but still fails at capturing nuances that vinyl and FM could convincingly pull off. Recording artists used to try to capture the sound of rooms, or open spaces as kind of a canvas for the instruments. These kinds of effects are subtle yet profound, and sadly almost completely absent when modern compressed digital formats are used. Heck, even FM broadcast seems to be using mp3 sources now, bc of course they are.

      1. Naturally, but as long as most people listen with those stupid little ear buds, they’ll never know the difference. Those of us with an appreciation for sound quality as well as the music itself are sadly in the minority these days.

        1. Those earbuds are actually easier to build to have a flat frequency response, and since they’re in your ear you’re not dealing with with resonances and room modes etc. or having to flap a dinner plate sized paper cone around.

          In the same sense as how a pair of headphones easily beats an expensive pair of speakers, earbuds can easily beat over-ear phones because there’s fewer variables to deal with and less things to go wrong.

          All the sound comes out of a single diaphragm, which is light enough that it has negligible inertia, and as you scale things down the material of the speaker becomes proportionally much stronger so there’s less flex, and since the volume is very low (almost perfect impedance matching with your ear), you’re not moving anything very much anyways. It’s a better representation of an ideal sound source. In fact, it’s so ideal that you HAVE to add imperfections like cross-feed with a slight delay, so it wouldn’t sound entirely unnatural.

          When talking about sound quality, you have to differentiate between whether you mean technical fidelity, or sound “quality” as in, you like the particular sound of your $10,000 exotic wood speakers you spent so much time arranging in exactly the right spot in your dedicated listening room.

      2. yes they are. At least, here in the Netherlands, almost every track they play on radio is from a digital library. Much easier ( == cheaper) to produce the show, no technician needed to start the right track and adjust the volume. Some stations have even dropped the DJ and just use a computer-generated playlist.

      3. Most FM (and other) radio stations apply heavy audio compression to their music output (changing the audio itself, now how it’s encoded in a broadcast stream). So no matter how nuanced the source content, it comes out sounding uniformly loud and bright. This has been common for decades.

    3. I had a short time to enjoy the Sat radio in a newer model roll back bed work truck but the only thing I hated was the subscription fee needed every month. Seemed like a lot of money to listen to only a couple of stations that would play what I liked and if you wanted any news, it was always news from somewhere you were not. In past days, like back in the mid to late 70’s up until the early 90’s when music was still worth listening to IMO, I never had such amenities as cable or internet or SAT, the regional radio broadcasting both AM and FM was almost none existent at first in the area I lived in, basically just 1 station for the town. Later on FM stations started coming on the air in my rural region of western Neb. and life just got better! Living in the country we only had 3 TV stations, PBS and the other 2 switched off/on from one Broadcast company to another and only ran so many hrs a day. After that I moved to Calif. and WOW. Then I moved to east Tx. and it seemed like they were at least 5 years behind the west coast. Then things went to hell in a hand basket as new wave crap came around. Now I’m in western S.D. and NOT a one of the regional stations plays anything I care to listen to, so I spend my time in miserable silence mostly. How I miss my misspent youth. The good old days are truly gone for so many of us and the future isn’t looking brighter for sure. Seems like a better idea is always thought of and in the end it wasn’t such a good idea after all. It only makes life cost more to enjoy.

  4. I want to listen to local radio while working. Not so much need for High Quality Audio, just some noise background with hourly disaster infos. The other day I thought about replacing my old FM-radio with something modern.

    DAB+? The price killed it for me. Then at least much above 50 €. (I just seen them down to 25 €). And a featureless device paired with a clumsy interface.

    I ended with a bargain Echo Dot + bargain Creative GigaWorks T20. The Echo was a little bit of a scare but I leaarned to love the “alexa timer 2 minutes” tea feature. And, of course, “alexa play radio norge”.

    I miss a follow-me-around-my-home-with-multiple-alexen-feature.

  5. “when your mobile phone delivers any radio station or streaming service you desire and is always in your pocket, why would you want a radio?”

    Ever plan for a severe weather event or the zombie apocalypse?

    1. You want several cheap $10 battery-powered radios for that. Spending ten times that on a single DAB unit that probably lasts a few hours on a charge or is mains-only is a sure way to be yelled at by everyone as you all get eaten.

      1. And they are impossible to fix. I have a Pure DAB radio that stopped working, and the module inside (coincidentally made by Frontier Silicon, a company in the same Cambridgeshire village as me) is doing nothing and taking 2A thank you very much, overloading its voltage regulator. So it will need a new module. I’ll probably convert it to be a bluetooth amplifier.

        Compare that to a superhet – much easier to fix.

        1. In the recent freeze in Texas, two TV stations and a radio station in my area went off-air after 2-3 days. Even the web stream of the radio station went out. Presumably their generators ran out of fuel and it was not possible to get a truck in with more fuel because of iced-up roads.
          So there’s a data point about the “zombie apocalypse” scenario.

    2. I have tried about every plan and service out there, and I am amazed that a simple page like hackaday even loads most of the time. Where is this mythical perfect cellular internet so many people seem to claim to have?

      I don’t think it exists, and that most people that makes comments like “just stream it all day long” are in denial on the fact that they are paying out the ass cause the poster at the store said “the fastest”. Heck the manufactures know the truth, that’s why my 2017 era LG came with a analog radio tuner!

      1. I used to have a 3G LTE dongle from T-Mobile, for my laptop, and it streamed just fine all day long and I used it for work too. It reliably gave me video, audio, and large file transfers. $50 a month. Tried to get a replacement a few years back and the guy at the store insisted on having my Social Security number. Homey don’t play that.

        1. It looks like we still have it pretty good in Europe, I have a gizmo I picked up at the local grocery store (Hofer/Aldi, 45€ for a 4G LTE modem that can work as a WiFi hotspot, 2€ for SIM card (no questions asked), €15 for 200GB monthly prepaid or credit card). I know of two spots where it loses/degrades signal, one is high in the hills.

    3. “Ever plan for a severe weather event or the zombie apocalypse?”

      You’ll need a vacuum tube (valve) radio for EMP apocalypse, good luck getting enough current for the heaters.

        1. Any engine after either… it’s got an EMP device in the engine bay with it, connected to it’s own electrical system, if ECUs were that glitchy and unprotected, cars would never drive. I realise they go wrong sometimes, but in general they are pretty rugged.

      1. RTE transmits on 252khz AM longwave, you just need about 20m of wire, a crystal earphone, some sheets of aluminium foil and a germanium diode to receive it.
        Just keep one germanium diode inside of a lead box and you’re fine for an emp apocalypse. Though i doubt the transmitter itself will still be functional.
        BBC’s radio 4 uses tubes, but the RTE transmitter is quite a lot smaller and may use transistors already.

        1. Okay, multiple points here:

          Why a lead box?

          Why *any* box? If the diode isn’t in a circuit it’s just a rock. EMPs don’t make rocks stop working.

          You don’t even need a diode. Use a razor blade and a pencil.

          1. If the diode has leads, it has an antenna. The EMP from a nuclear blast for example is like an electromagnetic tsunami or a shockwave, which at ground level can peak at 50,000 Volts per meter in 5 nanoseconds, which means if you have a ribbon of diodes with 5 cm leads oriented against the field, you may have 2,500 Volts briefly appearing across the PN junction, which has the same effect as zapping it with a static charge from your finger as you pick it up.

            Some delicate germanium point contact diode may very well go pop simply from that. Any ESD sensitive parts are also EMP sensitive unless they’re very small.

        2. You’d better hope you can still receive Radio 4, after all it’s broadcast is used to determine the stability of the British government. If the nuke subs can’t hear it for a specific amount of time the commanders will assume the worst and open the “letters of last resort”, eek!
          Prettt sure V Bomber pilots used to keep a radio tuned Droitwich et al. when returning home, if the line was dead then find somewhere else to land haha

    4. Because radio is free, can’t spy on you, can be received virtually anywhere, requires no updates,
      doesn’t require permission of a 3rd party, has no data caps, lasts for weeks on a set of batteries, and doesn’t tie up your phone while you are listening to it.

  6. 10 years back the local 2-way radio shop talked the local law enforcement into
    going digital(Kenwood Nextedge I think it was) and told them the range would be
    better…. They (law) had to ADD 2 new repeaters to get the same coverage area.
    I still hear/read that digital has better range?!?! The real world says otherwise.
    (NO-I am NOT a digital radio “hater” — I run DMR and CODEC2 all the time )

    1. Well digital does have better range, if you define range as the distance at which you get perfect fidelity human ear can’t tell they aren’t yelling at you in person… Its just bad and fuzzy long range analogue is still understandable, because we humans are good at signal processing, so massively beats digital at that range – which has probably just cut off entirely (at least with common band and power limits for both in use)… So its one of those technically true, for any digital transmission system, but only if you insist on looking at it like an audiophile, where only 100% of the signal and no noise is acceptable…

      So still one step better than ‘politically correct’ which often means an outright fabrication.

      1. It’s complicated. If your signal is down near the noise level and you have to hear audio, the best choice is single sideband, then double sideband suppressed carrier, then AM. Both FM and digital have threshold effects that make them worthless at low SNR (depending upon the system, 12-18 dB approximately.)

  7. The main difference with DAB radio and DVB-T is DAB isn’t on the same frequencies compared to the analogue counterpart, so switching off the existing network won’t make more frequecies available, and three metre frequencies are too low for cellular phone network, so antennas have to be bigger and long distance sporadic-E or tropospheric transmission is possible, disrupting these networks.
    About quality of FM signal, it is pretty good especially on portable operation, compared with DAB. And DAB, compare to DVB-S channel has a lower quality due the bigger compression ratio, and on satellite you’ve 100x stations available.

    DAB and DAB+ aren’t welcomed by conumers, bescause IMHO they’re arrived too late. I remember DAB car radios, like 25 years ago and they were expensive as hell. Now that they’re pushed, there are way cheaper and more flexible solutions, even streaming from smartphones.

  8. I think the US “HD Radio” (iBiquity) is a better solution: it’s free, it’s backward compatible and it always improves sound quality. My understanding is that DAB often reduces sound quality since broadcasters choose to have too many sub-channels.

    1. Just wanted to say this. I can receive them in the Netherlands just fine with a good radio. Quality is for alright for portable use, and at home you’d just use internet.

  9. I assume there is an elephant somewhere, there always is where ‘improved’ technology is involved. Is this digital radio 2 way communication? If so, I would suspect the ever present ‘to improve user experience’ would be employed.

  10. I love listing to music, but in Aus the problem is that the digital radio is a lot lower sound quality than a good signal on FM.. Digital radio sounds like an over compressed mp3 ie crap.

    I suspect this is common around the world, they went with a standard lower than FM, and wonder why it hasn’t taken off..

    And at the same time we have had internet services that stream audio take off, and you can get ones that do it with decent quality. So if you are at home it’s a brain dead option to listen to the internet instead of digital radio, and if you are out you just listen to the library on your phone..

    So digital radio, given how they have done it, looks a pretty dead end tech to me..

    1. The main positive use case for DAB in Australia is that it streams live in cars (in capital cities) without mobile data costs. The units are also typically easy to use and are nicely integrated with a car’s sound system.

      Of course, the caching powers of a phone connected to CarPlay or Android Auto largely negate that for people who like Spotify and/or podcasts. As mobile data becomes cheaper, and more and more cars get a good interface for phone audio, DAB becomes less and less useful for users.

    2. Totally agree with this. Every car I have had with DAB+ has had reception issues. When the reception is good, bitrate is too low on most stations, and it sounds like rubbish. Gave up on digital radio, now I either use FM or spotify. Replaced my stock card head unit for android, and it didn’t bother me that I would lose digital radio. Know I could get a dongle to enable digital radio on the new one, but didn’t bother.

      If the powers in charge want it to take off here, need to sort out the reception and put in minimum bitrate rules so it at least matches FM.

  11. If they do that here in the U.S. me and my family will be doomed. I’ve already written at least once about how the move from analog to digital TV caused us to lose the ability to listen to tornado updates. We used to be able to hear about a tornado warning, turn the TV volume all the way up and then we could ride out the storm in the basement being able to hear when one was in the area. When my city went to digital I lost access to most of our stations(even in the best conditions) because due to RF ghosting in the area, we get crap signal despite being no more than 5 miles from any of the TV stations(which makes the ghosting even worse, FYI), and as luck would have it, the good station for tornado updates was one of the casualties. When we had analog TV, even if the signal was ghosting, we could at least HEAR the reports.

    Now we have to rely on radio stations that aren’t nearly as good at reporting the location of tornadoes. If the U.S. ever goes to digital, we’re utterly fucked.

    1. I’ve had free trials. It’s basically shovelware radio, uncurated playlists of whatever random dreck fits the algorithm they use to define the station’s niche. No flow. If I want my ears assaulted in such a fashion I’ll leave youtube on autoplay.

        1. There are some radio channels up on the old C band birds, I wonder if one could figure out a simpler, smaller antenna and receiver that would work for audio carrier only.

    1. However, FM infrastructure will require maintenance or renewal from time to time and is a costly process for national broadcasters! A reason why legacy transmission systems are reviewed from time to time.

  12. @Jenny List said: “But it does raise the point for other places: when your mobile phone delivers any radio station or streaming service you desire and is always in your pocket, why would you want a radio?”

    Why would you want a radio? Seriously? LOUSY MOBILE DATA CAPS! That’s why.

  13. I’m in Australia and a bit of a DAB+ fan for the variety of formats and also the fact at least the AM stations sound better on DAB. In terms of range I find it equivalent to FM. Some stations do sound better on FM than DAB but it’s the variety of formats and ease of use in the car that keeps me on DAB.

  14. The funny thing is: In the european union, there is now a law that prohibits the selling of new radios without DAB (If they have a display).

    Seems they have missed something when radio stations are still allowed to broadcast only FM.

    But seriously FM just works receivers are cheap and sound is good enough for mobile applications.

    By the way: South Korea for example has turned off DAB years ago.

  15. Finland was at the cutting edge on this trend and killed DAB already in 2005, IIRC. The consequence? Radio is still predominantly FM, even though the most channels are transmitted also in DVB-T (but who has a DVB-T receiver in the car, for example?). And streaming, of course.

  16. As the 2020s roll on with 5G rollout and improved 4G reception coming to rural areas, is there any need for an audio only system like AM, FM or even DAB+? It does not really make economic sense to broadcasters nor listeners!
    A question for anyone owning a twin speakers smart radio with various modes, how often do you listen to DAB, compared to the radio’s Internet mode? I imagine the answer is rarely!
    Around 95% per cent of my listening pleasure is from online radio, whether in the house or in the car. Generally, the accoustics on music channels knock the socks off of DAB with DAB’s mid-fidelity sound and joint stereo with poor “”imagery” on sound separation!

    1. Wvery time I read that “streaming is the future” I wonder where all these people live who have perfect mobile data service and huge data caps. Obviously they don’t live where I do, with a so-called “National Broadband Network.”

      1. Nick, Rural Dumfries & Galloway region in south west Scotland. EE recently built an additional seven transmitter relays to boost signals west of Dumfries, through to Stranraer. On the road you will experience the odd dropout on an eighty miles journey, but it is worth that pain for improved audio quality and greater choice of listening than offerings on DAB. The BBC Sounds app as an example, offers a deep breath ninety seconds buffer within reception not spots, so listeners rarely miss out on voice and music continuity while on the road!

  17. I have had DAB in my cars since 2002. The national broadcaster started DAB in 1995, and nationwide FM was closed down in 2017. The national broadcaster had 3 FM channels, only one truly nationwide, the commercial stations only 2 channels, not really nationwide, but available in many places. Now the national broadcaster has about 1000 DAB transmitters, the commercial stations a little more than 200. So DAB is available all over Norway, the national broadcaster has a coverage of 99.3% , the commercial stations about 99%. That is why the DAB radios in cars have a service following setting, because Norway is divided in 7 regions. The commercial stations all broadcast on the same frequency all over Norway.
    I have no idea hos this is organized in Ireland, and I am Sorry RTE will stop broadcasting.
    In Norway we have countless mountains,fjords,valleys and forests.
    DAB works fantastic for most people, but not everyone has the right equipment with the right antenna, or they have not learnt to use a DAB radio.
    And radio today is available on many platforms.
    But radio on a radio is the easiest way to listen. It’s free.

    1. The coverage mentioned in Norway is not ”all over Norway” , it is where people live and work. So when you get outside these areas DAB reception is not guaranteed at all. Especially when you travel and stay in mountains and at sea along the lengthy coast. Frequently listerners are complaing about drop-outs while driving outside metro areas and in tunnels. The GEOGRAPHICAL coverage for DAB in Norway is far below the former FM-network. One should bear in mind that you will in principle need 64 DAB-transmitters to replace 16 FM-transmitters. Norway is the only (!) country in the world which have closed its national FM-network. Norway closest neighbours Finland, Sweden and Russia will not follow suite, ever.

  18. The great thing about digital is that it can be arbitrarily adapted. Have a strong signal? Great. Use that for a great high fidelity connection. Want to maximize your range? Use a low bitrate error-tolerant encoding.

    There probably isn’t a single use-case where a well-optimized digital radio system wouldn’t beat a traditional analog version. Just define your requirements carefully. The problem is when they go for bad compromizes that try to square too many circles.

    A well conceived DAB broadcast would probably have been better than any FM system. But the broadcasters wanted to save money, and squeezed as many station into as narrow a spectrum as possible, to create an “okay” service for regular users.

    But the problem is that regular users were unlikely to splash out for an expensive radio. On the other end of the userbase you have techies who might have been willing to pay more, if they had used the digital system to offer better audio quality or better reception, but that would have cost them more spectrum licensing fees.

    Digital TV, by contrast, almost always came with an improved picture quality, better reception, and more stations. But they did get to switch off the analog broadcast, so there was way more incentive to offer a better service.

  19. I bought a battery DAB radio many years ago. In those years I have really only used it on FM mode – why? The extra choice of stations is not worth the poor battery life of DAB.

  20. In Australia Melbourne and Sydney in the car most AM radio stations are terrible, Melbourne especially on the AM band has massive interference due to trams and their electricity grids. I drive numerous cars for work and all have the same issue on the AM band and often FM has issues over distance.
    DABS car radio has been a saviour. Truly it is fantastic for cars in Melbourne and Sydney.
    Yes now some cars have wireless head units and Android and Apple play etc, but DAB+ has its place.
    It is free more or less and just another upgrade from old AM.
    Nothing is perfect but for capital cities in Australia I think DAB is wonderful.
    You can buy a portable DAB+ radio that run on AC or battery for $20 from Kmart etc. Our family have 3 of them.

    Each market has what suits them. Australia is a huge country with massive distances compared to other markets, and I think each country has to decide what works for them and take into account numerous things, price, distance, TRAMS, etc.

    1. Of course sounds better on DAB rather than AM. However, DAB transmiitter range is inferior compared to all other platforms FM included. For Australia outside the five big cities digital radio DRM30 on the AM-band and DRM+ on the FM band would be a much better solution. This is probably the main reason why the Australian government has decided to retain both AM and FM. ABC AM-stations were the most important broadcast platform during the forest fires.
      If you want the best sound in your car the best solution is online. Here you can listen to radio and Spotify with a 320 kbps quality, far better than any terrestrial platform.

  21. I hope DAB radio goes away! I dont wan’t digital radio! If we really need it, then we might as well go with the superior DRM and send digital radio on MW and SW frequencies.

    I don’t really see a pressing need for having to go digital on FM radio at all. And where I am nobody sends on MW or SW anyway, so why not use what’s lying there unusued for digital DRM?

    Honestly, I’d love to see analog MW and SW broadcast radio make a comeback, but sadly it won’t happen, so best I can hope for is digital MW/SW I guess…. I just love the simplicity of analog radio. Not everything has to be digital…

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