Saturday, 28 September 2013

End of VHF/FM

It seems that the government is still determined to go ahead with forcing all public radio transmissions to digital. This will obviously make obsolete hundreds of thousands of serviceable FM receivers in the UK and reduce the flexibility of an organisation like BBC Radio Wales which is currently able to split the airwaves to accommodate, say, sporting commentaries for different parts of the country. Additionally, unless additional transmitters are provided, it will deny radio to many parts of the UK, even some within greater London, whose DAB reception is practically nil.

As someone who switched to DAB a long time ago, I have another concern. BBC and those commercial stations which have DAB channels suffer from "early adopter" syndrome. The early system of DAB in use here is virtually unique. The world standard is now DAB+ which is an improvement in several respects. It seems unlikely that there is any investment worldwide in improving the performance of the original DAB hardware and software, so I should like to see the government commit to DAB+ for the future. This would encourage manufacturers to produce radios which can switch easily between the two - according to Which? there is already a suitable computer chip design. Obviously the two systems would have to run in parallel for some time, but a decision to secure the future of radio in the UK is overdue and if VHF/FM is abandoned, then there will be money from the sale of that spectrum.

No comments: