Ofcom is to officially trial new technology which will provide small scale DAB services for a fraction of the current costs.
The regulator wants to gain feedback from testing the new approach, recently pioneered by Ofcom engineer Rashid Mustapha who set up a similar service in Brighton in 2012.
The service is cheaper than current systems because it uses software freely available from opendigitalradio.org, rather than relying on often expensive hardware equipment. Known as ‘small scale DAB’, it is best suited for broadcasting to small geographic areas, ideal for community and local radio stations.
The test transmission was an audio track of squawking seagulls.
Stations already expressing an interest in Small Scale DAB include Celador and UKRD plus a number of hospital, student, online and community radio stations.
Rashid, a senior broadcast specialist at Ofcom, said: “The first test of the small scale DAB concept was from the roof of the tallest building in East Sussex. Despite an unexpected delay to the start of the experiment while waiting for young Peregrine falcons to fly from their nest, the technology provided very encouraging results.”
“The trials being announced today are the next step in potentially helping hundreds of small stations to start broadcasting on digital radio.”
Each of the ten trials will allow new digital radio services to broadcast to a local area and will help explore how groups of radio stations can work together. The trials will also inform Ofcom’s work on identifying suitable frequencies for broadcasting smaller digital stations and help understand how these services could be licensed.
Ofcom is today inviting applications to take part in the trials, which are expected to run for nine months. The deadline for applications is 3pm on 7 April 2015.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom Consumer and Content Group Director, Ofcom, said: “We’re looking for local and community radio stations to take part in trials to test this innovative new technology.”
“If successful, this could significantly benefit digital radio listeners up and down the country.”
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is funding Ofcom’s work on how small stations could access DAB digital radio.
More details here.