Ofcom proposes to allow more DAB+ radio stations

Ofcom has today published a consultation proposing changes to the technical rules that DAB broadcasters need to follow.

Amongst the technical details, one of the proposals includes removing the 30% limit on DAB+ stations on the SDL multiplex.

At the moment, the multiplex must have at least 70% of its services in original standard DAB.

For all other multiplex operators, the Technical Code states that DAB+, which is a more efficient method of encoding audio than that used in the original DAB system, can only be used when specifically permitted by Ofcom. The default expectation in the Ofcom Code is that conventional DAB audio encoding will normally be used.

The regulator says DAB+ compatible receivers have become increasingly widespread in recent years and DAB+ more widely used so wants to remove the requirement for licensees to obtain specific authorisation from Ofcom for adopting DAB+.

But whilst it will be easier to launch a station using DAB+, any multiplex operator switching a current station from DAB to DAB+ will be expected to liaise with the individual radio station(s) with the aim of providing appropriate information to listeners on the changes (e.g. on-air announcements), and providing advice on the steps listeners can take to continue receiving the service (e.g. purchasing a DAB+-capable receiver).

The new technical rules ensure that digital radio signals are transmitted in a uniform way and don’t conflict or interfere with one other. This helps enable digital radio listeners to receive the same listening experience from the digital radio stations available in their own areas.

Today’s consultation proposes changes to ensure the Technical Codes keep pace with new technology and industry developments, including making the rules more suitable for the needs of future ‘small scale DAB’ services.

The consultation closes on 18 March 2019.

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  1. Mr Boltar says

    And when DAB++ or DAB2 comes along are we supposed to shell out for yet another radio upgrade? DAB was sold as the future and many people invested a lot of money in equipment. So there are better more efficient compression methods now, so what? In another 10 or 20 years AAC+ will also be outdated. Then what?

    Its somewhat ironic that my Denon tuner can still pick up all FM and AM broadcasts but increasingly decodes less and less DAB ones. If its DAB functionaly becomes redundant I won’t be upgrading it, I’ll simply stream any stations I can’t get on FM.

  2. Ron Dobbyn says

    I live within walking distance of the Kent county border but can’t get Radio Kent on Dab or Freeview. I can get London,Berkshire, Essex, and Surrey radio, but not Kent. I use my TuneIn app and the BBC radio I player all the time to listen in to my station,s of choice.

    1. Radio Geordie says

      For some reason, BBC Kent on Freeview is only available via the Bluebell Hill, Heathfield & Dover transmitter groups. It should be on channel 719 if you do get your signals from either of these.
      As to why you can’t get a DAB signal, well that’ll depend on where you live, but I thought that most of Western Kent was covered by either the Benfleet, Bluebell Hill or Wrotham signals (at least at 2kW+ for all sites). There’s even a low-powered site for Tunbridge Wells.
      Judging by what BBC services you can pick up, you appear to be picking up your TV signals from Crystal Palace so I can only think that you live in an area which has a unique black spot from all the high powered sites.

    2. Radio Rental says

      I can get Radio Kent in SE London on DAB. 96.7 should also work as well.

  3. Rincent Slade says

    So stations will use 32kbps AAC instead of 96kbps MPEG-2. The race to the bottom for quality continues. It’s FM all the way for me

  4. Mark jackson says

    I used to get planet rock and kerrang radio before they messed with the way dab is transmitted in my area now I get neither just more stations from global playing the same tunes day in day out the only reason I got a dab radio was for planet rock and kerrang

  5. Graham B says

    I also have an old Denon Tuner, still works well, but you have to move with the times, I have DAB in the car and it is great in fact for some reason it works far better than in the house, I also have 4 radios that are Dab & Dab+ If Dab+ improves reception then i am all for it, i never listen to FM Anymore.

  6. Mr Roland Beaney says

    I’ve been listening to Radio Caroline in Dab+ on several outlets and it sounds fine. Hopefully in the future they will be allowed a little more power and more transmitters. Since I’ve had DAB in my car I’ve been very pleased with reception and hardly use FM at all now.

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