Ofcom to allow DAB+ only services on small scale multiplexes

Ofcom is proposing to make all small-scale radio multiplexes offer DAB+ services only.

The regulator wants to amend the Digital Radio Technical Code to include the condition so that no original format ‘full fat’ DAB is allowed.

Ofcom says it recognises that older radio sets are only capable of receiving DAB services and are not compatible with DAB+, but the number of sets that can receive DAB+ services is continuing to increase through a combination of the Digital Radio Tick Mark Scheme and increasing prevalence of DAB+ radios in new cars (93% of new cars in the UK being fitted with a DAB+ radio as standard in 2019).

Eight of the current ten trial small-scale multiplexes carry a majority of their programme services in DAB+ so Ofcom says it does not therefore believe that requiring small-scale DAB multiplexes to operate exclusively using DAB+ would prevent significant numbers of listeners from enjoying those services, and it would increase the number and range of services available to listeners with DAB+ compatible sets.

In addition, Ofcom has announced it is ruling out a second full Manchester multiplex, and a 4th London-wide mux.

Finally, Ofcom says there are a number of areas where sufficient spectrum should exist to support both small-scale DAB and additional local radio multiplex services. They are:

a) most of Scotland;
b) Northern Ireland;
c) Tyneside and Teesside in north east England;
d) One of; Bradford, Leeds or North Yorkshire and
e) Devon and Cornwall in south-west England

See the full consultation document here.

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13 Comments
  1. Dave says

    At last some common sense making everthing DAB+

  2. Michael V says

    This is great as we need to push forward with DAB+. The UK may be a mature DAB market but it’s time to move on. Listeners have had some years now to upgrade to DAB+ radio sets & with services such as Gold, Heart extra making the switch., We can see the shift from the big companies. Ofcom has done something right!!!

  3. Mr Boltar says

    Oh thats nice, so more electronic waste then. Ofcom doing their bit for the enviroment. Radios tend to last for a very long time particularly hifi tuners and DAB was sold as the future. Now apparently its a;lready the past whilc FM and AM are still going. What happens when AAC+ is superceeded, another few thousand tons of perfectly good equipment in the bin? Imbeciles.

    1. mb23 says

      Nothing is sold as the future, the Freeview TV that you were using 10 years ago won’t receive HD programmes.

      New DAB+ radios only cost £40, the alternative is that we all have to put up with mushy mono transmissions.

      1. Mr Boltar says

        “The Freeview TV that you were using 10 years ago won’t receive HD programmes.”

        All HD channels are multicast in SD and most small channels are SD only.

        “New DAB+ radios only cost £40, ”

        You completely missed my point about electronic waste. The cost is irrelevant.

        “we all have to put up with mushy mono transmissions.”

        That is nothing to do with MP2 and everything to do with bean counters. Mushy audio is already happening with low bit AAC+ too.

      2. Dave says

        A lot of the egsisting local multiplexs still have spear capacity on them, it will be interested to see if they respond?. Maybe they will start going DAB+ & reduce there rates to be on the multiplex?

    2. Dave says

      Technically I can’t see how DAB+ can be improved on. There are already 3 versions of DAB+ btw which all DAB+ radio can handle

  4. Richard says

    My VW can’t receive DAB + and it’s only 5 years old!
    I find it really annoying and I will have to get a newer car soon!

  5. Dave says

    Hmm but all national mux’s need to switch to full DAB+ also with a minimum bitrate of 40 kbps if not more. We are still way behind with DAB+ time the BBC started with DAB+ also

  6. Chris says

    Well I won’t be buying another DAB set, I have 5 in my house, none of them DAB+, time Ofcom listened to the users and not the broadcasters.

  7. Sue says

    I think it,s a shame we have egsisting local multiplexs in some cases not even half full & ofcom should stepped in & made them offer reduced carriage costs to community stations, before offering small scale DAB licences.

  8. Raymond Woodward says

    I’ll be sticking to online myself, why struggle with low bandwidth etc when the likes of 320/128 kB AAC @ 48 kHz are easily available.

    Give me 75 mB fibre and a decent Hi-Fi online tuner any day of the week …

    1. mb23 says

      Radio is a mobile medium, and online listening on the move uses up data allowance. DAB+ listening in the car is free and unlimited.

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