Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Digital Britain: Hang on until 2015, DAB

If the parts of Digital Britain which deal with filesharing seem like polite attempts to placate rights holders by pretending they have good ideas, then what to make of the idea of switching off FM and AM by 2015 in a bid to make millions of radios obsolete and fill up the dumps of Britain?

Sure, TV switched over quite painlessly, so far - but TVs and radios are fundamentally different; you can adapt most TVs to take a signal from a set-top box, turning them from analogue into digital. And most households have already, voluntarily, taken themselves digital.

Radios, though, aren't so easy to turn into digital devices. Effectively, if you've got a radio that gets Radio Fuddleduck FM, the only way to make it pick up Fuddleduck Digital is by unscrewing the plug, throwing the radio away, and then putting the plug on a digital radio.

And most households have yet to voluntarily take themselves digital.

Partly because, really, there's little point. Sure, you get 6 and 7, but most of the extra channels are weak, or just what you get elsewhere. Milton Keynes, for example, is still waiting for its regional multiplex, and when it finally turns up, most of its channels are going to be slightly different local variations of Heart. I've got a DAB because I love radio, and gadgets - but the radio I use most often is the one which picks up signals from my wireless router, not the DAB.

So turning off FM and AM isn't going to be as smooth as pushing the last few stragglers to Sky or Cable or Freeview; Gordon Brown might want to cast his mind back to the marches through central London when the BBC proposed removing Radio 4 from Long Wave; taking everything off AM and FM might be a foolish act for a politician bleeding popularity. And to push a broadcast network which has already been surpassed in range by IP radio? Why would you risk that?

It might make more sense to think about how to get wireless internet radio into cars. And leave AM and FM to fade away when there's a serious alternative.


Anonymous said...

"It might make more sense to think about how to get wireless internet radio into cars. And leave AM and FM to fade away when there's a serious alternative."

It really is the only thing holding back internet radio. That portable market. Unfortunately, nobody seems to be getting this to frustratingly out of touch people who seem to have produced this report. The bias towards DAB is unbelievable. It really doesn't reflect the technological reality of the situation. It's about as far from forward thinking as one could get.

On the subject of internet radio, you might be interested in http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/2009/06/bbc_degraded_quality_internet_radio_streams.php

Anonymous said...

Out of interest, what I/net radio do you use? Was thonking about getting one.

Olive said...

Oh goody. By 2015 DAB will be hopelessly obsolete, and lots of luck picking up anything whilst in Europe, where they're implementing DAB+. Naturally, DAB+ is not backwards compatable.

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