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Since summer, the extension of our DAB trial to Cork City has gone extremely well. It’s received a very favourable response and each of our participating stations has reported an uptake in listener feedback from the city.
Technically we have been trialling a number of solutions for transporting the multiplex datastream to Cork.
Satellite distribution, though flawless, is expensive. Data distribution is a core and significant expense in operating a national network and our trials of the reliability of new data compression techniques are critical to the bottom line.
To reduce the data overhead we’re working on a new codec which reduces bandwidth by up to 50%. So far, running on a test circuit this has proved to be quite stable and next year we’ll trial it on a number of fibre and wireless solutions plus one on the public internet.
Over the past three months we’ve also engaged in some extensive research work meeting with key partners in Australia, China and the USA to discover what issues they have encountered with DAB and solutions which worked.
The trend emerging in all countries is that FM has reached capacity and broadband is not enough. While the benefits of digital broadcasting are agreed by all, even the detractors, it is a clear migration plan that is critical for DAB+.
Norway is leading the way in this respect. Their plan is that if DAB coverage matches FM and audience share exceeds 50% by 2017, they will migrate to DAB+ permanently. If it doesn’t they’re migrating anyway in 2019.
This clear migration path has had an amazing effect. Now that broadcasters, advertisers and listeners know what’s coming, uptake of DAB+ in homes and cars is almost at the level required for 2017 and it’s only 2015! It proves that a government led clear plan works.
Such is the success of this clear migration plan that the same plan is in action in Sweden and Switzerland. The Danes and the UK have similar plans but without the firm deadline. It’s very likely that in ten years many EU countries will have completed, or be in the process of, migrating to DAB+.
Which is why we are laying the groundwork for Ireland today with our trial in Dublin and Cork.