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Tagged with " DAB"

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.

Q2 2013 Report

Jul 1, 2013   //   by dusty   //   DB Blog  //  17 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.

Q2 has been exceptionally busy for our DAB trial.

The pace has really picked up with the trial now carrying twice the services we had at launch. In addition to All 80s, Pure Classic, Raidio Ri-Ra, Sunshine Radio and UCB we have just been joined by UK based Amazing Radio. This is a mile-stone for Irish radio as Amazing is the first UK licenced station to broadcast terrestrially in the Republic of Ireland. Our feeling is they won’t be the last.

One thing we learned while adding new services is that new mux configurations, once again, show up deficiencies with many receivers. Some receivers update and add new services automatically as one would imagine. However not all do. Some require a listener to re-scan their radio. Two receivers in particular needed a full factory re-set. While we work with receiver and chip manufacturers to fix issues such as this it is good to know these limitations. We shall use this knowledge with particular attention to how we reconfigure the mux in addition to adding a “re-scan” message on DLS to alert listeners of changes.

Also during Q2 we carried out extensive audio tests. We operated two DAB+ channels carrying the same audio but with different settings. Listeners were asked to respond on our website with their observations. What surprised us was the amount of listeners who rated both channels as being equal in quality despite a difference of up to 32k. This strengthens observations, made elsewhere in Europe, that once the audio is acceptable quality the majority of listeners are happy.

On conclusion of our audio tests, our feeling is that DAB+ offers excellent quality at half the bit-rate of traditional DAB. This bodes well for the future as it further reduces costs for broadcasters and increases the choice of stations available to listeners.

Finally, we are pleased to say, our trial licence has been renewed by ComReg and firm orders have been placed for transmission and antenna equipment needed for our expansion to Cork. It’s going to be a busy summer!

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

Q1 2013 Report

Apr 10, 2013   //   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.

We began the year concentrating on technical improvements to our signal in the Dublin area. Thanks to some fantastic support from Harris we have made adjustments to our main transmitter which is performing flawlessly and we remain impressed with the signal delivery of DAB. However building penetration remains a problem and we are considering a repositioning of our antenna to aid this subject to ComReg approval.

On the programming side we have had a very favourable response to Love Radio which went on-air on 1st January. Our plans to trial other niche formats continues with the launch of Pure Classic, a high-quality classical music service, early in Q2. We will also welcome the first FM commercial station to join the trial. Dublin based Sunshine Radio will start their DAB service during the next quarter also.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland continue to be very supportive with a reduced-rate licence fee specifically for DAB trial broadcasts. The lower cost and simplicity of the process has encouraged more services to trial DAB. During Q1 we have been working with an existing broadcaster preparing one such application and it is expected to be issued late May/early June. Watch this space!

Finally, regarding expansion to Cork, the required upgrade works at the site have unfortunately been delayed. As a result our launch in Ireland’s second largest city has been pushed back to sometime during the coming summer.

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

Q4 2012 Report

Jan 4, 2013   //   by dusty   //   DB Blog  //  2 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.

During this quarter we continued our transmission power tests by going the opposite direction to Q3 tests and turning the transmission power down to just 50w. Again the results were surprising with such low power offering reasonable coverage of Dublin city and its main suburbs. As expected, building penetration in the city centre was greatly affected but as Ireland is generally not a high-density country this bodes well for the roll out of digital radio nationally.

A lot of our time in Q4 was spent in meeting rooms rather than transmission rooms.

Firstly we were laying the foundations for expanding into Cork & Limerick where upgrade works are required at each site to facilitate the trials. We are happy that the works are now agreed and hopefully will take place during Q1 2013.

Secondly we have received tremendous support from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in relation to the licencing of new content services. As a direct result of this we are able to trial a number of new radio formats across 2013. The first of these new services, Love Radio, has just gone on-air bringing the number of DAB exclusive stations on the trial to four. Our feeling is, now that the trial is establishing itself, the number of services will continue to grow.

Thirdly, and very excitingly, we are exploring the possibility of a cross-industry digital radio group. As we have learned from Australia, Germany and other countries where public/commercial broadcasters, regulators and mux operators work together amazing things can happen.

We look ahead to 2013 with a very positive outlook.

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.

Q3 2012 Report

Oct 3, 2012   //   by dusty   //   DB Blog  //  7 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.

Our first three months on-air have shown some very interesting insights into digital broadcasting.

The most interesting results are to do with receivers where we’ve found high error correction and bit rates are not handled as smoothly as one would hope. On the other hand, low bitrate DAB+ broadcasts have performed exceptionally well. MOT capable receivers have also shown outstanding performance with Slideshow on colour screens making a big impression on test groups.

Also on receivers, it is evident we have a lot of work to do in establishing the WorldDAB/EBU Profile 1 standard here in Ireland. This was introduced in 2009 to establish a Europe-wide market for manufacturers, broadcasters and consumers. Under the standard all digital radios should receive both DAB and DAB+ broadcasts. With the virtual certainty Ireland will move to DAB+ only this will be a key area of consideration.

On the transmission side of the trial, after testing a number of transmitters we have settled on regular use of a Harris DAB TX for the Dublin area.  The transmitter is configured differently from the RTÉ mux to allow direct A/B comparisons of both services. As expected there are differences in distance and building penetration on both. Though the higher power transmissions do increase the service area it is not as great as we had expected. This will help in the planning of our forthcoming SFN, Single Frequency Network, part of the trial.

Public reaction to new trial services has been very positive. We are constantly surprised by the amount of people who find our trial “by accident” when playing with a new radio and wondering what the DAB button does!

Some disappointment has been expressed by members of the public that more commercial services are not available. Interestingly they view us, the mux provider, as being responsible for what stations are broadcast. The reality is our trial is open to all but it is up to stations/content providers to acquire the appropriate licence from the BAI to enable broadcasting on DAB.

As we continue to work on aspects of content licence issues that have arisen in the past months we are delighted to announce today that two definite new services will broadcast on the trial before the end of November. Join our Twitter feed for updates.

Internationally, DAB is making advances with Denmark joining Norway and the UK as the third country to switch to DAB as its primary radio platform within the next seven years. Germany has celebrated a very successful first year on-air and in France the long promised licencing process for new DAB+ stations is in full swing.

Back in Ireland, our goals between here and Christmas are to increase power on our Dublin service and lay the foundations for an expansion of the trial to Cork & Limerick next year.

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

 

Minister Launches Trial

Jul 9, 2012   //   by dusty   //   DB Blog  //  2 Comments

Minister of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Mr Pat Rabbitte launched a new DAB+ trial in Dublin this week being operated by dB Digital Broadcasting.

The trial is broadcasting three new radio stations; All 80s, Raidió Rí-Rá and UCB with another three scheduled to come on-air early October. This will bring to over ten the number of commercial and RTÉ stations available exclusively to anyone with a DAB radio.

Speaking at the launch Minister Rabbitte said

“I am very impressed with DAB digital radio and I am very pleased to launch the trial service.”

Most new radios now include a DAB button and the most recent JNLR figures show 283,000 Irish adults own one. Because it is digital, DAB can deliver text, pictures or any other digital data in addition to a radio stations audio.

DAB, Digital Audio Broadcasting, is the new radio transmission system being adopted across Europe, Asia andAustralia.Norwayare replacing 1200 FM transmitters with just 700 DAB transmitters which carry ten times as many stations. The cost savings for broadcasters are significant.

Ireland is a perfect market for DAB broadcasting. We have effectively run out of available FM spectrum and listeners are particularly underserved outside ofDublin. By giving station brands an opportunity to expand nationally at reasonable cost DAB will allow growth in the radio market to the benefit of broadcasters and listeners.

All the necessary legislation for a national DAB network is already in place and digital broadcasting is a key element of the BAI work-plan for the next two years.

Managing Director of dB Digital Broadcasting, Mr Dusty Rhodes, said at this weeks launch;

“Everyone is obsessed with getting radio content onto the internet despite the cost and technical difficulties. Our goal is to bring internet type content to your radio, simply and for free.

Our trial has introduced the new world standard DAB+ toDublinfor the first time. Right now this gives listeners text and picture updates of what’s playing plus latest news and weather information. As our trial progresses we shall also be testing Broadcast Web Site and on-demand audio with Filecasting.

Our eventual goal is to bring 30+ new radio stations to every car, home and workplace in the country.”

dB Digital Broadcasting actively inform and encourage people to follow and partake in developments at www.dbdb.ie

Press Cuttings:

Sunday Business Post

Q2 2012 Report

Jul 2, 2012   //   by dusty   //   DB Blog  //  7 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.

Q2 has been a very intense period of activity as we geared up to putting our trial on-air.

On the technical front we took delivery of all the required transmission equipment and the installation was carried out during June. Our inventory now includes transmitters from Rhode & Swartz and Harris. These are two of the leading manufacturers of DAB transmission equipment and we shall be testing the various transmitters as part of our trial.

We have a special thanks to say to our engineering team who took every problem in their stride, delivered a solution and had on us on-air on-schedule for July 1st.

This has also been a very active quarter working with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland on licencing new services for DAB. The first two of these are All 80s and Raidió Rí-Rá. The latter has been an internet only service up to now and their participation will provide some interesting insight regarding online v’s DAB radio. In the meantime we continue to work with the BAI on three further DAB exclusive services which we hope will be licenced by Q4.

The first three services launched on July 1st were;

Each service broadcasts on traditional DAB and the new world standard DAB+.

Each stations DAB+ service includes Slideshow displaying images as well as the station audio. In particular All 80s are working with All-In-Media’s Rapid software. This delivers rich dynamically updated information from now playing to weather/traffic info plus listener requests all displayed on-screen.

Now the trial is on-air our first task is to slowly bring up the transmitter power and directly compare it with the local RTÉ service. Other tests include variations on actual transmitter, error correction, encoding rates and others.

Each month we intend to post a list of the specific items we are working on and your feedback would be greatly appreciated in the comments section below. Keep up-to-date automatically with these updates by email or RSS feed on our Join In page.

 

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.