At the end of each quarter you can get an update with the latest developments and achievements of the dB Digital Broadcasting DAB trial. To automatically receive updates by email or RSS feed see our Join In page.
Since our last report we’ve spent the majority of the past year working on installing a DAB transmitter in Cork city. Though we purchased and tested the transmission and antenna equipment last summer, the actual installation and connection of our feed threw up more problems than anticipated. These problems were beyond our direct control so we had to rely on patience and perseverance to get through.
I’m very happy to say everything worked out in the end and our DAB trial is now available in Cork City. The topography of the city is more defined than Dublin, so the signal shall concentrate on the city area, and in particular, on in-building reception.
This second leg of the trail will also test connections between, and networking of, DAB transmitters using a number of different platforms from satellite downwards plus new data compression algorithms. As our trial is a Single Frequency Network (SFN), the Cork trial will carry exactly the same audio and data services as Dublin.
On a positive note, we had a very successful trial of DAB BWS during the Radiodays Europe Conference in Dublin last March. BWS is an acronym for Broadcast Web Site and it does what it says on the tin.
For this trial we created a small website of just a single html text page with targeted links. The html was updated dynamically using AIM’s Rapid software taking feeds from the All 80s studio playout system. The page was then broadcast alongside the audio so a listener could see the name of the song playing, and if they chose, could click links for more information on the artist playing, or current news/weather etc. All these short pieces of information were contained in a single html file which was under 16k.
The result was fantastic. Without cluttering the screen, the radio station made available several pieces of useful information to listeners, who in turn could ignore it or explore it using web-like links. The downside of the experiment was that it would only work with a SDR on a laptop as no receivers in the market are BWS capable.
However, it does show that broadcasters can deliver additional content in relation to their programmes, at the point of consumption, without the need for a phone app, website or any kind of internet connection. This is a huge leap forward, and in an increasingly visual digital age, a standard that will be expected from the listeners. Later this year we hope to develop BWS more as its ability to transmit information, is not only tremendously useful for programmers but could be revolutionary for radio advertising.
On the programming side of the trial, we are happy to welcome on-air Zenith Classic Rock, who will become a more permanent feature on DAB since acquiring their BAI licence earlier this year. To make room for them we sadly say goodbye to All 80s. The station was launched a number of years ago by our own director Dusty Rhodes. However, to avoid any thoughts of conflict of interest, the station has been sold to new owners allowing Dusty to concentrate 100% on the DAB trial and turning it into a full national service.
The outlook for the remainder of 2014 is good. Now Cork is on-air we have time to continue with more experiments in BWS, and Filecasting, the ability to broadcast on-demand podcast content. More to follow later in the year!