with RCS

Digital switchover to hit satnav

Up to three million in-car satellite navigation systems could be affected if and when the digital switchover happens in radio.

A report in the Daily Telegraph says the problem would cost over a £1million a year to fix.

The [link=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8096638/Satnavs-could-be-hit-by-digital-radio-switchover.html?]article[/link] claims it'd hit so-called 'smart' satnav devices that are built into cars and give their users real-time traffic information. It potentially affects cars from manufacturers including Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, Toyota, BMW and Volvo.

The systems use the RDS-TMC technology to receive traffic information broadcast to receivers as part of the FM spectrum on the INR licence held by Classic FM.

While there's no suggestion of FM signals being turned off altogether, if a station sending data as part of its signal moves to DAB then it could present a problem for devices like satnavs.

A source for the article in the Telegraph at the weekend says paying to transmit traffic information by itself on FM, instead of piggybacking cheaply on an existing radio station signal, could cost "hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds a year".

The insider told the paper: "It's another example of yet another hidden cost of digital radio switchover, and for what benefit? It’s now 11 years since the decision was made to transmit radio using DAB, and yet no one has thought of an answer to this question. You couldn’t make this stuff up. And of course we know who will ultimately pay – it will be the public, the listeners, because the industry will find a way to pass on the costs."

Laurence Harrison, director of technology and market development at Digital Radio UK, said: "This is an issue that we have been aware of for a period of time. It has been highlighted in the government’s Digital Radio Action Plan, and we are working to resolve it. Clearly it’s important but we are only in the first stages of addressing the solution. There’s no suggestion that it can’t or won’t be resolved."

Lee Colman, traffic services product manager at Trafficmaster who supply some of the traffic information, said: "We're working with all stakeholders in the industry to ensure that our traffic data is always available where drivers need it."

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