Will the UK ever adopt DAB+?

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Philip
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Warning; this post is quite long and includes technical details that might bore you.

I've been reading a lot recently about the downsides of DAB. The biggest is thought to be the MP2 compression, which is very old and inefficient by today's standards, but was chosen because the original DAB plan was thought up in the 1980s. This means that even though the so-called "sweet-spot" for DAB is 192kb, a lot of stations are under that, and 192kbps isn't even CD quality as DAB used to be marketed as (it's now "digital quality"), in fact you'd have to go up to 256kbps.

In fear of companies moving on to newer technologies, DAB+ has come about and is now in use in Australia. The sweet spot for DAB+ is much lower, at 64kbps, meaning that stations that broadcast at 128kbps would actually sound better than they do now at the same kbps, and stations like BBC Radio 4 Extra would also sound better. However what they could also do is reduce the bit rate to the same bit rate quality as 128kbps but the DAB+ equivalent (seeing as the "sweet spot" is much lower), allowing for more stations to be fit on to a multiplex. As well as that, the error coding is much, much better which would mean less drop-outs on those lower-power stations, a good thing for car radios (which Ford are going to start including next year, DAB ones that is).

Of course the changeover would be very costly for the consumer, who would be annoyed with the fact their new DAB radio would not work and they would have to fork out for a new DAB+ radio. Luckily my two DAB radios are DAB+ compatible with an unlock function in a hidden menu only used now for firmware updates, however PURE Digital (the manufacturers) warn you might have to pay for it. Would the government have to do another "scrappage" scheme for newer DAB radios not compatible with DAB+?

Sorry for the probably confusing post, I was just intrigued and do want the UK to adopt DAB+, but of course have to think how it would work and the implications of such a scheme.

Edit: Oh, this is the page I got all the detail from: http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/dab/dab_vs_dab+.htm
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Pete
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Philip wrote:(which Ford are going to start including next year, DAB ones that is).
DAB or DAB+ ?

RegHardware said Sony is upgrading its DAB stuff to DAB+ soon however IIRC ofcom have taken the strange stance of not broadcasting in DAB+ until there are enough DAB+ receivers out there.

marksi recently suggested* that the BBC should ditch broadcasting in DAB due to its immense costs. Is this true of DAB+ too?

*obv if I was writing in the Times or the Mail this would read "The BBC is plotting to ditch DAB" as all these putting quality first suggestions have been reported so far
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Philip
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Pete wrote:
Philip wrote:(which Ford are going to start including next year, DAB ones that is).
DAB or DAB+ ?

RegHardware said Sony is upgrading its DAB stuff to DAB+ soon however IIRC ofcom have taken the strange stance of not broadcasting in DAB+ until there are enough DAB+ receivers out there.

marksi recently suggested* that the BBC should ditch broadcasting in DAB due to its immense costs. Is this true of DAB+ too?

*obv if I was writing in the Times or the Mail this would read "The BBC is plotting to ditch DAB" as all these putting quality first suggestions have been reported so far
It was reported here on Absolute Radio's One Golden Square Blog: http://onegoldensquare.com/2011/03/a-da ... dam-bowie/

...which has this link from WhatCar magazine: http://www.whatcar.com/car-news/ford-pl ... 012/255956

...which both do not mention DAB+, only DAB. I've commented on the OGS blog (my comment now looking back on it may be factually inaccurate), but no reply so far.
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Alexia
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I'm in favour of DAB+ and also of DRM -- there's no reason why we can't adopt two standards and have dual-fuel receivers like we do now for FM/AM.

As I've previously revealed I'm also very much in the WIFI / internet lobby, but that's offtopic.
Philip
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Alexia wrote:I'm in favour of DAB+ and also of DRM -- there's no reason why we can't adopt two standards and have dual-fuel receivers like we do now for FM/AM.

As I've previously revealed I'm also very much in the WIFI / internet lobby, but that's offtopic.
I don't believe internet radio could ever be the primary broadcast platform for radio, due to internet connection problems such as buffering, download limits, then of course there is the portability, car radios etc, but certainly as a secondary form of listening to the radio. Absolute Radio currently have a trial stream of 1Mbps FLAC, much higher than BBC Radio 3's HD Sound format at 320kbps. This would obviously never be possible on DAB+ or DMB-R, let alone standard DAB. It's a very good substitute for over-the-air radio, as long as you have a fast and unlimited internet connection, which is costly.
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Alexia
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Philip wrote:
Alexia wrote:I'm in favour of DAB+ and also of DRM -- there's no reason why we can't adopt two standards and have dual-fuel receivers like we do now for FM/AM.

As I've previously revealed I'm also very much in the WIFI / internet lobby, but that's offtopic.
I don't believe internet radio could ever be the primary broadcast platform for radio, due to internet connection problems such as buffering, download limits, then of course there is the portability, car radios etc, but certainly as a secondary form of listening to the radio. Absolute Radio currently have a trial stream of 1Mbps FLAC, much higher than BBC Radio 3's HD Sound format at 320kbps. This would obviously never be possible on DAB+ or DMB-R, let alone standard DAB. It's a very good substitute for over-the-air radio, as long as you have a fast and unlimited internet connection, which is costly.
I agree not the primary, but if the mainstream corporate stations hog all the primary, it leaves us enthusiasts and the smaller stations to serve our niche audiences in this Spotify generation. For that we at least need some kind of accessibility beyond random apps for the iPhone and WIFI radio receivers.

Incidentally as technologies and net speeds get better and quicker, buffering would (or should) become a thing of the past. There should at least be an option for limitless mobile data usage, even if its for initially squillions a month.
Philip
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Alexia wrote:Incidentally as technologies and net speeds get better and quicker, buffering would (or should) become a thing of the past. There should at least be an option for limitless mobile data usage, even if its for initially squillions a month.
True, but as the hardware gets faster, the software gets more complex.

Take YouTube. If it had stayed the same as it was in 2006, all of its videos would load instantly. However it now has 720, 1080 and even higher settings which are better quality but take longer to load. As speeds get faster, bit rates will be pushed higher and speed will stay the same, albeit a bit faster.

As for unlimited mobile data, many phone companies are now getting rid of those plans and only offering capped data plans.
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Alexia
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Philip wrote:As for unlimited mobile data, many phone companies are now getting rid of those plans and only offering capped data plans.
Yes, but what's to stop a company buying up some mobile network capacity and marketing it as a means of solely streaming audio? What about the future of mobile TV?
Inspector Sands
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The problem is that if the current DAB system is scrapped then that's it for 'digital radio' in the eyes of the average consumer. It doesn't matter what replaces it - DAB+, DRM, DMB etc, it's all 'digital radio' and they won't trust it to not disappear too.

Internet radio is all very well but it's incredibly inefficient and inappropriate for broadcasting, even with lots of bandwidth available from ISPs and mobile companies. Here's a couple of recent interesting blog articles on that very subject:
http://www.garfors.com/2010/12/testing.html
http://james.cridland.net/blog/think-mo ... ink-again/

It's great to use it to listen to a station from the other side of the world which would never be broadcast in your area, but as a mainstream, primary method of distribution it's not
Philip
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It could just be introduced as a new version of DAB, that will work side by side with current DAB until the amount of DAB+ receivers eclipses the amount of standard DAB ones. Consumers could be encouraged to visit participating stores that will swap or upgrade your standard DAB radio for a small fee or in some cases free.
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dosxuk
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Philip wrote:It could just be introduced as a new version of DAB, that will work side by side with current DAB until the amount of DAB+ receivers eclipses the amount of standard DAB ones. Consumers could be encouraged to visit participating stores that will swap or upgrade your standard DAB radio for a small fee or in some cases free.
There are two big issues with these ideas :-

1) Spectrum - the amount of radio spectrum available is limited, having a mirror service of DAB, which itself is mirroring FM is going to really stretch that availability, even if there is some spare currently available. OfCOM is desperate to sell off any spectrum it can to the mobile phone companies (which in turn are desperate to get control of as much as possible), meaning worthwhile uses of spectrum, but that don't directly generate revenue for the Treasury are forced out. See also RNLI having to pay for their radio usage.

2) Cost - if shops are upgrading / replacing DAB radios for free, who is going to pay for it? The manufacturers are quite happy with the current situation that the public may be forced to come to them to buy new radios. To offer at their own cost to upgrade / replace would be shooting themselves in he foot. Look at the current PMSE "exchange" which is being carried out to move licenced radio mic owners out of channel 69 down to 38 (which requires different equipment / modifications) - the funds for this replacement is coming from the Treasury. The manufacturers involved aren't offering discounts (and there have been reports of increasing their prices) because it's not in their interest to do so.
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