Small scale digital radio took to the air in Brighton this morning with the UK’s first local DAB multiplex.
Six services will be available on the nine month trial including Juice 107.2, community station RadioReverb, internet station totallyradio, Smile Sussex (the nostalgic station already on DAB), Resonance Extra – a free creative space for curated broadcasts and sonic arts experimentation and student station URF Sussex.
Project leader, Juice 107.2 Chairman Daniel Nathan said he was grateful to Ofcom and the Department of Culture, Media & Sport for supporting this pioneering work: “We were enthusiastic about the possibilities in the first place because we believed it would disrupt the status quo and highlight the outrageous cost of doing DAB the traditional way,” said Daniel.
The idea of using this freely available open source software solution was developed by Ofcom senior engineer and Brighton resident Rashid Mustapha as an extracurricular activity and then subsequently an Ofcom sanctioned experiment in the city in 2012. Daniel recalls: “When I first suggested its use at a radio industry digital stakeholders meeting, the idea was roundly dismissed. I was told: ‘we’ve looked at software based DAB but it’s too unstable and will never work’. Let’s see how the nine month trial shapes up!”
Daniel added: “The interesting thing about this approach is that unlike traditional DAB, it’s a low cost point of entry for new broadcasters with the space to experiment and innovate – and that this is not and will never be a viable replacement technology. Perhaps it’s time to abandon the idea of DAB as the universal broadcast solution for radio. At a new democratic price point, the Small Scale trial suggests that it really is time to reinvent DAB as a low barrier incremental radio platform.”
Ten small scale DAB multiplexes will be launching in the next few weeks across the UK.