DAB radio coverage improved and celebrated

The launch of 435 new national and local DAB transmitters was celebrated today during the Digital Radio Stakeholders’ Event at the headquarters of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in London.

The additional transmitters bring 10 million more adults into coverage for local DAB stations and 1.5 million more adults into coverage for BBC national DAB stations. The DAB expansion has brought an additional 7,000 kilometres of the UK road network into coverage for local DAB stations and 2,300 kilometres of roads for the BBC national DAB stations.

During the event, senior representatives from four of the key stakeholders involved in the expansion of DAB coverage – Robin Holmes, BBC; Grae Allan, Bauer; Glyn Jones, Arqiva and Ian O’Neill of DCMS – pressed the big green digital radio switch to mark the progress made.

Over 200 DAB transmitters have been built to expand coverage of local DAB stations from 75% to 90% of UK households in a programme of work co-funded by local commercial radio stations and multiplex operators, BBC and DCMS and coordinated by Ofcom. Local DAB coverage is now widely equivalent to FM coverage of local commercial stations, meeting the DCMS local coverage criteria for switchover. During the meeting it was confirmed that the local DAB expansion programme is largely complete with the last remaining few transmitters to launch by the summer.

In total, 14 new local DAB multiplexes have launched over the last four years and there are now 53 local DAB multiplexes which collectively carry 419 local stations including 45 of the BBC’s network of 46 BBC Local and Nations radio stations. Only BBC Radio Cumbria remains without DAB coverage.

The BBC has launched 161 new transmitters on its national DAB multiplex, bringing BBC Radio’s national network of 11 stations to 97% of UK households on DAB and providing more robust coverage for 26% of homes or 13.6 million adults.

New transmitters have also been built to support the two national commercial DAB networks, Digital One and Sound Digital. Sound Digital, which launched in March 2016, was built to serve 77% of UK households, and now carries 19 stations, whilst Digital One’s coverage has been expanded to 91% of the UK and now carries 13 stations.

During the meeting, Digital Radio UK unveiled the new spring digital radio consumer campaign which highlights that DAB coverage is now available to over 90% of households and prompts listeners to reconsider digital radio with the message, ‘if you think you know digital radio – think again.’ The campaign launches on Wednesday 29 March across national and local commercial radio stations.

Ford Ennals, CEO, Digital Radio UK, said: “We welcome the massive expansion of coverage of the national and local DAB networks which has transformed the DAB listening experience for millions of listeners and drivers. We are marking the moment with a new consumer ad campaign highlighting that over 90% of the UK can now get DAB stations.”

Tamzen Isacsson, SMMT Director of Communications and international, said:  “With vehicle manufacturers now fitting digital radio as standard in almost 90% of new cars, it’s good to see the UK’s signalling infrastructure catching up so that more people can tune into the full range of local and national stations on offer along thousands more miles of road network.”

Robin Holmes, Head of Commercial, Distribution & Business Development, BBC, said: “DAB expansion is part of a range of technology and product innovations enabling us to make BBC Radio content accessible to audiences however they choose to listen, and to introduce new audiences to the greater range of quality, choice and features offered by digital listening.”

Grae Allan, BDR DAB Radio Director, Bauer, said: “The expansion of local DAB coverage to be largely comparable or better than FM is a significant step change in securing the continuation of the robust health of radio listening in the UK and broadcasters, producers and sales teams on the ground in local markets to now promote DAB with great confidence to listeners and advertisers.”

Glyn Jones, Digital Radio Operations Manager, Arqiva, said: “Choice and coverage are central to the success of Digital Radio so we are delighted to have worked with the BBC, commercial radio, Ofcom and DCMS to have successfully extended the BBC’s national network and the local DAB network to millions more listeners in the UK. Additionally, we are proud to have launched Sound Digital, the second commercial DAB network and expanded Digital One to reach 90%of the UK.”

In the photo: Robin Holmes,BBC, Glyn Jones, Arqiva, Ian O’Neill, DCMS and Grae Allan, Bauer.

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  1. Alexander Mullen says

    Does this now mean that we will be able to measure listening more accurately and precisely??? – The current system is all about guess work and well, well overdue replacing!

  2. Dave Graham says

    Next step getting sound digital 2 for Suffolk, Norfolk, Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Devon, cumbria, northern Ireland, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, and the rest.

    1. J Peter Wilson says

      D2 was set-up to be a national DAB/DAB+ multiplex for stations wanting to cover around 77% of the UK with just 45 transmitters compared to D1 covering 91% of the UK population with over 160 transmitters. Therefore why would a radio station wish to pay higher transmission costs if it can reach over three-quarters of the population on fewer transmitters. You do the maths.

      In addition most of the Yorkshire population can receive Digital 2/SDL National. Where I live on the East Yorkshire coast I can receive the Digital 2 stations clearly (85-95% signal strength) from High Hunsley and when I travel across the county to the North and West Yorkshire towns of Harrogate, Leeds, Sheffield and York I can clearly receive the D2 signal from Belmont, Bilsdale and Emley Moor. It is in places such as Scarborough and Skipton that there is no D2 coverage.

  3. Nigel Peacock says

    But no comment at all about the forthcoming small scale DAB licences, where the bill passed through Parliament last week and only awaits Royal Ascent?

    These mini-mux licences are the next major growth for DAB. Let’s not ignore that.

  4. Len Gurrie says

    What exactly are these organisations smugly congratulating themselves for? On providing stations broadcasting the same songs in a technical quality far lower than that enjoyed by much, if not the whole, of the rest of the world? Nigel is right: the minimuxes are leading the way in both choice and quality and the best of luck to them.

  5. Steve Cannon says

    These people are living in dreamland. I suggest they try driving from London to Birmingham on the M40 and then they will seem how useless DAB is. I have a car with DAB fitted as standard and the signal along the M40 it is forever breaking up. I live near Oxford and the signal from the Beckley mast is utterly useless. It breaks up all around the area even if the mast is in sight. The whole thing is a joke and they expect to turn off FM at some point….I don’t think so.

  6. Neil says

    I hope they remember those like myself who kick started DAB and bought hi-fi tuners for CD quality Stereo sound only to be kicked into touch with dumbed down mono broadcasts only n.eeded for their shift to one speaker DAB portable kitchen radios. My DAB stereo tuner is just an ornamont

  7. Phil Hipshaw says

    How can taking a Radio Station away from DAB radio improve the size of its listening audience ?

  8. harry worth says

    Andover cant get a decent berks and hants local mux signal, because aquiva have not yet put the ibsthorpe site on air yet

  9. Henry says

    DAB: A solution to what problem?

  10. Steve says

    In Carlisle only BBC and mono d1 no sd or local mux any ideas when we get it ?

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