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Q4 2014 Report

Jan 5, 2015   //   by dusty   //   DB Blog  //  4 Comments

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 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.

To follow our progress remember you can keep up-to-date automatically by emailRSS or our Twitter feed and, as always, your feedback is greatly appreciated in the comments section below.

Q2 2014 Report

Aug 1, 2014   //   by dusty   //   DB Blog  //  12 Comments

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!

As always your feedback is greatly appreciated in the comments section below.  Remember to keep up-to-date automatically by emailRSS or our Twitter feed.

Q1 2012 Report

May 1, 2012   //   by dusty   //   DB Blog  //  No Comments

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.

January 2012 started with confirmation from ComReg of our trial licence for DAB transmissions. The licence covers transmitters located at Irelands four main cities; Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway. The three key areas on which we shall be reporting back to Comreg and the BAI are; transmission, data and content. Find more details about our trial goals here.

With the licence confirmed we officially invited approximately forty broadcasters to provide radio stations to the trial. Despite the recession we had a higher than expected response, and surprisingly, some responses from outside of Ireland also.

For Irish broadcasters we have avoided general simulcasting of FM services. We believe that DAB needs to offer listeners something new or different. To make this a reality a number of new stations are going though a content licencing process with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland which should be complete by June.

Running in conjunction with this was sourcing suppliers for the actual multiplex and transmission equipment.

For the mux we sought a supplier who was equally keen to expand the data functionality of DAB and use our trial to experiment with brand new world leading features. Our supplier of choice is the Swedish based Factum Electronics. Their mux is capable of encoding sixteen different stations in DAB or DAB+ as well as supplying DLS, DL+, EPG, Slideshow, TPEG and more right out of the box. We are excited to be working with Factum and others over the coming months on other data features yet to be announced.

On the transmission side we have engaged German company Plish, who also supply RTÉ, for our transmitters. The supplier chain is rounded off with Delta Mechanics cavity filters and Aldena for custom antenna manufacture.

Now the base elements are decided we are working through Q2 on putting everything in place.

We shall be rolling out the trial in three phases;

  • Phase 1 Dublin July 1st 2012
  • Phase 2 Cork & Limerick Q1 2013 (Subj to site upgrade works)
  • Phase 3 Galway TBC

Q1 has been a very successful and exciting three months for the project. The momentum is increasing as we proceed through Q2. Keep up-to-date automatically with updates by email or RSS feed on our Join In page.