back to article Lords: Analogue radio must die

Digital radio isn't great and the public doesn't want it, but you're going to get it anyway. So recommends the House of Lords Communications Committee today. 90 per cent of the UK listens to radio, and 94 per cent of listeners are happy with what they've got. The Lords accept most of the points made by critics of DAB and the …

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  1. yoinkster

    I feel special

    I'm in a small 10% minority of people who don't listen to the radio at all, did they pluck that stat out their arses? ... After all, I purchased an mp3 player because it has no adverts or crap talking DJs, surely more than just 10% have done the same thing?

  2. censored

    I've just cancelled the order for an all-singing new DAB radio

    If 6music is going, there's not much to listen to.

    What kind of push is the BBC going to give it in the future if it's pulling out half it's digital-only services now?

  3. john loader

    Why?

    What does anyone get out of this except the manufacturers of over priced sets - a bit of wavelength for teh government to sell whilst us poor saps have to fork out millions between us. Perhaps Lords don't listen to the radio in the car, too busy uncorking the champers

  4. rototype
    Pirate

    Sounds about right

    Govornment says "We think it's good (we can probably tax it some more), so you're going to get it whether you like it or not, and you are going to have to pay for it"

    Sounds like the death bell for a LOT of smaller (and often more interesting) radio stations.

    Looks like Caroline may be making a comeback......

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blank cheque?

    I suspect that was provided by the DAB lobby?

  6. Alan Douglas

    Environmental issues

    Has anyone calculated the increased power consumption that will be required to run all these DAB radios? Must be some % of a new power station.

  7. Andy Livingstone

    Democracy?

    "Digital radio isn't great and the public doesn't want it, but you're going to get it anyway".

    Replace subject with anything you can think of.

    It's Britain today.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Quite the opposite actually

      FM transmitters consume megawatts of power. DAB uses far less, kW not MW. OK they could do with cranking it up a bit even so; also the transmit amplifier efficiency is not so good due to the high peak-to-mean ratio of an OFDM signal.

      DAB, being a digital system, is able to work with only 7.5dB of signal-to -noise (theoretically - actual designs need one or two more dB). By "work" i mean achieve a bit error rate of less than 10^-4, which does give you the bubbling mud phenomenon, but again a couple more dB will make this go away, and with DAB+ it will go altogether - an additional Reed-Solomon encode will correct these low-rate errors completely.

      that said, i don't want to see FM sacrificed on the altar of "better use of the radio spectrum" - or "better financial return from something we think we own"

      - we, the british public should own the FM band by virtue of the money we have spent over the years and still today on FM radios.

      Its a working worldwide standard, leave it the fuck alone...

    2. Marvin the Martian
      Headmaster

      It's mislabeled.

      It should actually read "90% of UK people gets regularly subjected to radio".

      If it wasn't for cab driver's radios (instead of decent records --- even if it's not my taste, please play something personal instead of charts drivel interspersed with jingles), mates' failure to play mp3s on car stereo, and clothes stores trying to annoy me, I'd also be in the radio free fraction.

      1. Sartori
        Stop

        Umm, no?

        FM transmitters transmit Megawatts of effective radiated power, they don't USE Megawatts of power. The actual power of a transmitter is far less than the transmit power due to aerial efficiencies. Either way, neither ERP or transmitter power equate to power consumption.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Megawatts?

        There are no UK FM radio stations using "Megawatts 'of power. I think the maximum in the UK for analogue FM transmission is 250KW. Typically a mid sized commercial station might be using 4 or 5 KW with many small stations scraping by on 100-500 watts.

        Now AM transmissions are different. They are very power hungry and inefficient. Radio 4 and Talksport have 500 KW transmitters which on AM will certainly mean having to put more than a megawatt into the TX array to get 500KW out. AM transmission is beastly, I once worked for a small scale AM station licensed for 10 watts or something daft. We used to have to stick 50 watts into the aerial to get the correct output out.

        Yes DAB uses less but lets not exaggerate the problem when the majority of non national stations are scraping by on less leccy than is used by an average fan heater.

    3. Euchrid

      re: Environmental issues

      A little while ago – I can’t remember, but I guessing 3-4 years ago – someone posed this type of question in Radio 4’s feedback. The answer was phased as an example of if you have a wind-up radio, 30 seconds of winding it up would give you about 30 minutes of analogue listening; if you were listening to DAB you’d get about 10 seconds.

      On the other hand, I believe most DAB radios aren’t so power hungry these days and some are touted as being very energy efficient.

    4. Gerard Krupa

      Re: I've just cancelled...

      "What kind of push is the BBC going to give it in the future"

      The Beeb will be replaced with 100s upon 100s of generic commercial stations with adverts every 10 minutes and a looping playlist of only 6 songs. At least with DAB you will have a little text display showing you which of those 6 tracks you just heard in super-tinny quality for the 99th time today assuming your receiver's tenuous hold on the signal isn't disrupted by being inside a building or standing next to someone whose sandwiches are wrapped in tinfoil.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Maybe they'll add

        Radio 1 + 1

        Like those + 1 TV stations that repeat what was on in the previous hour, only with the radio, both stations would be broadcasting an identical feed almost all of the time. Well certainly in Radio 1s case anyway.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, very questionable stats

      If I got together 9 of my friends I'm sure I wouldn't be the only one in the room who doesn't listen to the radio.

    6. spodula
      Thumb Up

      What do they get out of this?

      Why another big swathe of bandwidth to auction for ridiculous amounts of cash.

      The FM, AM and LW spectrums are gigantic compared to the pathetic little slots the mobi companies have been bidding on, and have a much greater range.

      You could fund an entire idiotic ID card project from that lot, with Biometrics, Retina scanners, blood samplers, Serior directorship and everything. (or a couple of hundred hospitals if you give a damn about that sort of thing)

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Unless you've got a car

      In which case the chances are fairly high that you've got an analog radio, even if you don't use it much.

    8. Kenny Myers
      Pirate

      It has

      Listening to Radio Caroline right now !

      http://www.radiocaroline.co.uk

      1. Steve X
        Thumb Down

        Raed the report

        > The FM, AM and LW spectrums are gigantic compared to the pathetic little slots the mobi companies have been bidding on

        Not so. GSM 900 has 25MHz, DCS 1800 has 60MHz. Band II FM has only 20 MHZ, and medium/long wave combined less than 2MHz.

        > and have a much greater range.

        Which is a severe inconvenience for a cell-based network, since each cell can only support a certain number of users. The bigger each cell is, the fewer users the system as a whole can handle.

        If you actually read the HoL report you'd see that even they accept that the freed-up spectrum is of no significant commercial value.

  8. Mike Parris

    What a shambles

    The public aren't confused. They either don't know what's proposed, or they do and they don't like it.

    When the public find out that they are going to have to throw away all their perfectly good radio's there will be a massive backlash. With TV switch over no TV's needed to be thrown away. With the car scrappage scheme they were trading in worn out cars. With this we will have to scrap all our radios, and most of them will have many years life left in them.

    I will be pretty upset if I have to throw away my 8 perfectly good FM radios in the name of digital progress. Most households, like me, have a lot of FM radios in their house and cars, and they will all be scrap.

    1. alyn

      Many Tvs will be scrap

      Nobody has thought about the millions of portable TVs. Do you think those will work on Freeview with a 6 inch ariel? As for mobile phone with built-in DAB, will those work using the headphone lead as an ariel? If the authorities get their way and force everyone onto digital TV/radio, then portable listening will be a thing of the past (apart from MP3).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And another thing...

      Is DAB coverage going to be improved significantly over the next five years?

      Many people find they have a shite DAB signal in their home so don't bother with DAB.

      Most people who've bothered to install DAB in their cars stick with FM because it's impossible to travel very far without losing signal quality.

      We have one DAB set in our house. The DAB signal is just as good as FM, but the set remains on FM. Why? Because the stations we want aren't available on DAB. It's not like the stations concerned are obscure ones, one of them is the local BBC station and we only live a couple of miles from a humungous transmitter.

      I suspect that many people will find themselves in at least one of the above boats and there really is no point spending money on DAB receivers until those problems are sorted. Amusingly I have been told that all those problems will be sorted out after analogue is switched off, because there will be lots of spare bandwidth around then. Do the pro DAB lobby not see the problem there? They want us to spend money buying DAB receivers in order that they can switch off analogue in order to free up bandwidth to make DAB work properly.

      The problem with car radios is that you people are not going to pay a premium for DAB when they have to stick with FM for the next five years. Other than rolling out DAB properly the best solution would be to ensure that all cars sold are DAB equipped and all new head units are DAB equipped and for the government to pay the difference. My car came with an FM head unit included in the price or DAB/FM as a £130 option. If the government had paid that £130 I'd have happilly gone for the DAB option. Those converters are truly appalling, the quality is crap and they're a pain to use - nobody should have to use one.

      Likewise every other tuner around. The DAB unit that sits in our kitchen cost £30 or we could have had an FM equivalent for around a tenner. Were that £20 premium funded by UK.gov people would go for it.

      1. Pan_Handle
        FAIL

        Shakespeare reference?

        It's "aerial" FFS, not "ariel". I know we're not supposed to discriminate against illiteracy but that one really gets to me.

  9. Hate2Register
    Happy

    Give all the FM stations channels on DAB.

    Give all the FM stations channels on DAB. Also the scrappage scheme can include a subsidy so that luddites (read Reg readers) can swap their crap FM radio for a nice little DAB set. And force mobile phone makers to put DAB into their handsets, instead of those crap FM chips.

    There you go, sorted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Poorer sound quality

      From wikipedia:

      "An "informal listening test" by Professor Sverre Holm has shown that for stationary listening the audio quality on DAB is lower than FM stereo, due to most stations using a bit rate of 128 kbit/s or less, with the MP2 audio codec, which requires 160 kbit/s to achieve perceived FM quality."

      So all of us Luddites should "upgrade" to get a poorer sound quality

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      agreed

      I do agree with you... I won't mind switch if I receive a blank check to replace my HF with DAB and also to replace by car radio with car DAB. And since is blank check perhaps I should consider buy an house to fit all my DAB stuf just in case needed.

    3. Jon Whiteoak
      Thumb Down

      Luddites?

      I had a digital radio but when I moved house the reception was so apalling in our new place we had to go out and by an analogue radio. The DAB is sitting gathering dust somewhere, which is where this proposal from the Lords (talking of things gathering dust!) should be.

      All the best luddites read The Reg.

    4. Eponymous Cowherd
      FAIL

      Have you tried DAB in a car?

      Fucking awful doesn't even begin to describe it.

      Oh, and forget the idea of DAB in your smartphone. If you think battery life is crap now, it won't last an hour with a DAB receiver on. All the "crap FM radio" has to do is demodulate the FM signal and amplify it a bit, all very low power stuff. A DAB radio has to throw some considerable processing horsepower at the task of decoding and decompressing the DAB datastream. That costs power. Quite a lot of power.

      And then there's the fact that DAB is old technology (MP2) already superseded by DAB+ (AAC+ and Reed Solomon error correction), which does offer quality and robustness broadly similar to FM.

      We are merely being sold a pup so the Government can make a quick profit selling off the bandwidth.

      1. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

        Er, yes I have

        and it's excellent - I can drive from my home on the Welsh border (which is not officially in the coverage area) to any point east without any break in programme on the two national DAB multiplexes. If you have a proper antenna, properly fitted, then reception is solid, and the MP2 sound quality is not an issue for in-car use. You are aware that for digital TV, Sky, VM and Freeview also use the MP2 codec for the majority of their services? It's not the codec that's the problem, it's the low bit rate chosen to squeeze large numbers of channels into the multiplexes.

        And I also have a phone (HTC Lobster) with a built in DAB receiver, which works for the whole day tuned in to Test Match Special. So no problem there either.

        Agreed that this is a stop gap, and agreed that DAB+ would be a better option. But the UK was first to air with DAB and many people have shelled out for DAB sets, so maybe we need the govt to buy all our FM and DAB radios from us so we can go and buy nice new DAB+ ones. So much for the environment.

    5. zebthecat
      FAIL

      As long you get DAB reception...

      ...which we don't. Nothing at - not even a 'glop'.

    6. david bates

      Thats a...

      fabulous idea...

      So thats 7 FM radios I use around my house, plus the one on my mobile, and the one on my MP3 player (both of which admittedly may be dead by the time this comes about) and the one in my car, which is integrated so cannot easily be swapped.

      The radio in my bathroom runs for about 6 months on 4 AA batteries (approx 1/2 play a day). I'll give you a toffee for every DAB radio you can find that will match that. I'll give you two toffees if any of them come in at the under £10 that that particular radio came in at.

      Its going to have to be a BLOODY good subsidy for it not to cost me hundreds to replace that lot...

    7. Markus Imhof
      FAIL

      Which of them?

      Ok, I'm not in britain, otherwise I'd have to ask: which of my half dozen or so FM radios will be subsidized in case of a replacement: the one in the stereo system in the living room, the one in the kitchen, the one in the compact system in the bedroom, the one in the mobile phone, the one lying in the bedside table, the one in the home office or the one in the garden shed? Just be glad I don't have a car.

      Fun aside: DAB is dead. This DAB is deceased. This is an ex-DAB.

      - For fixed (read home) entertainment, DAB has been overtaken by internet radio and/or youtube in combination with local WLAN (which is why I for one won't get a DAB replacement for any of the above FM receivers but rather a few comparatively cheap BT A2DP receivers that'll couple to my mobile phone, which in turn will connect via my local WLAN to my server or the internet).

      - For mobile pedestrian/bicycling entertainment, the ubiquitous MP3/... players offer better reception/audio quality than the simple receivers/antennas of portable radios can ever hope to achieve (yep, even for DAB).

      - For in-car entertainment, you have the choice of MP3, CD, DVD, reasonable FM radio (with a good diversity receiver, the only difference to DAB will be the (un)availability of local stations) or internet radio via UMTS (ok, the last one is still in the development stage, but if Google Earth is working reasonably well, the rest is just a matter of time).

      Bye

      Markus

    8. censored

      Crap FM?

      Have you heard the sound quality on the majority of DAB stations?

      128kbps (if you're lucky) MP2 does NOT make for hifi sound....

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      I feel moved to express my views on your post through the medium of song

      (Moderato; with apologies to Flanders and Swann)

      Mud, mud, bubbling mud

      Nothing quite like it for boiling the blood

      So follow me, follow

      Down to the hollow

      And there let us wallow

      In bubbling mud!

      I thank you.

  10. Some Beggar
    FAIL

    Did you bother to read the report?

    Far from saying "Analogue radio must die" it actually says

    "for the foreseeable future, the Government will consider FM radio to be part of the broadcasting firmament"

    and discusses the future of local BBC and commercial FM stations and even AM stations.

    Perhaps you should just have posted a link to the report rather than writing an article that makes it sound like they're proposing to hang Wogan from Tower Bridge by his entrails and ship the cast of The Archers to Guantanamo bay.

    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Did you bother to read The Register?

      :: Perhaps you should just have posted a link to the report

      I did. Give the specs a rub with a clean cloth.

    2. JasonW
      Happy

      Not all bad...

      Shipping the cast of the Archers to Guantanamo sounds like a step forward to me.

  11. rastansaga
    Unhappy

    Tech might be good, but available radios are crap

    why are all DAB radios shaped like ugly bricks? I hunted high and low some years ago for a small battery powered device I could stick in my pocket and use to listen to 5live on the way to/from work, but nothing doing. In the end I got a regular AM/FM device.

    My 'brick shaped' alarm clock next to my bed does have DAB - and happily autoscans for new stations - but never seems to forget discontinued services. Endless 'service not detected' when changing channels.There's no 'reset' option in any of the menus and even turning it off for a weekend did nothing.

    Even more ridiculous is that the manual talks of 'no more hassle resetting the clock due to BST switches - we take the time from the DAB signal'. Great, but it doesn't do this automatically, you have to press more buttons to get it to rescan the time than you would need to nudge the hour backwards/forward manually.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow

    I feel a warm glow when I read how in-touch the Lords and Commons actually are with the hoi-polloi.

    Maybe it's just me pissing myself laughing (when I'm not crying)

  13. Tom 7 Silver badge

    If I wanted to listen to a river gurgling

    I'll go to the river. I've tried a variety of DAB units and none of them work round here. If there's a give away of DAB radios its going to cost me a fortune in wobbly tables to make use of them.

  14. James Robertson 2

    fm is not crap

    I get great reception on my FM radio why would I want a digital radio. If it’s anything like freeview reception it will be a piece of crap, my ITV C4 channels are always breaking up cos they send it all on the same channel on freeview, why would I trust them with my radio.

    Not to mention the environmental cost of scrapping perfectly good radio’s for new digital ones.

  15. Eduard Coli
    Jobs Halo

    High fashon

    Beeb and the Lords should talk to Apples man as they seem to understand that what can not be dictated can be sometimes be made fashionable.

    Her majesty could be asked to be seen with a lovely DAB set, perhaps get her one for her birthday?

  16. EddieD
    Go

    I love my DAB

    Let's see, I've got a Pure, I've got a Roberts and I've got a Cowon D2+DAB. They are all dual devices, recieving FM/AM broadcasts too.

    When I went to visit my mother at Xmas, she was having problems with her old analog radio, so I popped down to Currys Digital and picked her up a cheap and cheerful own brand DAB, and showed her how the menu worked, and she, at 78, set up all her own channels, and loves it too.

    Okay, it's not all going to be rosy, there are going to be problems, but if we don't sit down and work out the solutions, we may as well just get the valves out again.

    Analog broadcast media belong in the past. DAB may not be the solution, and may well be superceded, but let's see, I've had a ZX80, Spectrum, C64, Atari ST, Mac (Classic), Dos PCs, Windows 9x pcs, XP PCs, Mac OS X boxes. I now have a Mac running Snow Leopard and a PC running Win 7. I had a CRT SD Telly, bought a CRT widescreen telly, bought an HD capable telly, then an HD ready telly, and then an HD capable receiver to go with my HD ready Telly.

    Technology brings change. You lot can put on your slippers, and sit in front of the fire, listening to the Light Program on the Wireless.

    I've got better things to do. And listen to.

  17. John Dougald McCallum
    Unhappy

    Radio Scrapage?

    If the Gobment is going to do this it will cost them a very large sum of money.I for one have about £800 worth of radios in one form or another AND I will want a like for like trade IE the CD player is one that I can load with 25 CDs so ther is one that they will find expensive.

    If the powers that be want us to listen to DAB then put programes on it that people want to listen to .

  18. FaustiesBlog

    The reason is RFID

    Katherine Albrecht (author of Spychips) has identified the reason. Analog frequencies are to be used in RFID chips, which corporations (such as Walmart, Asda, Gillettes, etc.) are embedding into their wares. They are selling these frequencies to the corporations.

    http://faustiesblog.blogspot.com/search/label/RFID

    There is to be an "Internet of things", where absolutely everything, including sewing needles, will be chipped so that they can be trackable by anyone interested in finding out more about you.

    Lovely, eh?

  19. Allicorn
    Thumb Down

    Meh

    They have "digital" on radios now?

  20. MJI Silver badge
    FAIL

    So impractical

    I would just give up radio.

    Unless someone produces a Minidisc head unit with Sony CD changer control.

    And gives it to me for free.

  21. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    FAIL

    Absolutely ridiculous

    I expect most people have an FM car radio, another connected to their Hi-Fi, and perhaps a radio alarm clock. They've had them for years, are perfectly happy with them, see no reason to change, and have no need to except through being forced. Most have probably never touched the tuning knob in decades.

    This is simply change for the sake of change. Something few want and fewer need. I can't imagine how anyone can see creating a mountain of waste electrical equipment - which would otherwise work for years to come - as acceptable in any way.

    I'm wondering how much this will damage rather than benefit the radio industry, how many will simply forego radio and stick to CD / MP3 in their cars and on foot and the same plus streaming media at home.

    Epic fail all round.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Good for You

      But what new shiny thing will you buy when DAB ain't sexy no more?

    2. Nebulo
      Thumb Down

      Technology brings change? Ha!

      Those of us who read the Reg know very well that change != improvement.

      Weak signal performance: AM noisy, FM noisy, DAB shite.

      Audio quality: AM comms quality, FM hi-fi quality, DAB shite.

      Battery life if you want it portable: AM outstanding, FM very good, DAB non-existent.

      Now back to listening to my FM radio, at hi-fi quality, while I still can.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Alright for you

      Do you live in a major urban area by any chance? My FM reception is crap enough- DAB is only worse. It may be fine if you live in Twickenham, but contrary to popular opinion not everyone lives in a major conurbation in the South-East. Even then, if you live in an old terraced house with thick walls, the best you'll get in your kitchen is something that sounds like 16kbit/s Real Player.

      And as for your "technology brings change" argument- it sounds a bit like you want technology for it's own sake- I'm all for new technology if it's better, but in this case it simply isn't.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Conspiracies

    They want the old analogue frequencies for their handheld "see through walls" machines that the the New World Order Gestapo will use to root out non-believers and the unchipped.

    Where's the tin foil hat icon?

  23. Tom_

    This would be ok if DAB was any good

    Sadly, it's not.

    My ten year old FM radio alarm clock gets better reception than my DAB set.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    so...

    My clock radio I've had for 10 years is going to stop being a clock radio and just start being a clock?

  25. Steven Jones

    Luddite

    @Hate2Register

    So who do you think is paying for this subsidy then - a magic fairy waving a wand? One way or another, the cost will end up with the consumer, tax payer or some other hidden charge.

    As far as I'm concerned, then it's a right royal pain with out much obvious benefit (and I already do have one DAB radio which stays on FM due to reception issues). Just take my car for a start. I've got a radio that integrates nicely with controls on the steering wheel column (as have many others). The best I can hope for at the moment (given there are very few DAB car radios around at the moment) is some widget that re-broadcasts the DAB onto FM frequencies. Some people have integrated radio/SatNav units - replacing those is going to be very expensive.

    Just to do a simple calculation, if there are 20 million vehicles out there at the moment and the costs of a proper integrated raplacement (not some nasty kludge) is, optimistically, £200 with fitting - then that's £4bn. That's without the estimated 50m+ domestic radios of other types to consider.

    The only way to make this work would be to mandate that all cars are fitted with DAB from the start, and that all new radios are DAB capable and then wait quite a few years until the number of "legacy" sets is low enough that iut isn';t a huge cost issue to swap them all out.

    No government is going to court this sort of unpopularity for something which is of precious little benefit to most. Already we have huge amounts of audience fragementation, and Internet radio provides plenty of narrowcast capability.

  26. BristolBachelor Gold badge
    WTF?

    LORDS = Lots Of Rubish Decisions Scheme

    "We've burnt all this money, and it would be embarrasing to admit we were wrong and stop now, so keep burning it"

    I can only imagine new TV adverts saying that all new radios must be BAD sorry DAB radios, or they won't work. They will show FM radios having lots of interference, and BAD radios having none (as clearly as that can be demonstrated on freeview, anyway!). They will invent some stupid puppet for a logo too.

    A few years down the line, they will give up with the BAD standard that they told everyone to buy, and change to BAD+ Everyone who believed the adverts and bought a BAD radio will now need to buy another one, but BAD+

    As others have said, the only winners are Retailers and big Chinese electronics manufacturers (oh and non-executive directors on boards of companies connected to them). The loosers are you and me, and the environment.

    I wouldn't believe it, but it sounds strangely familiar.

  27. Graham Bartlett

    @Hate2Register

    Nice idea, but...

    1) Licenses on DAB take a chunk of money. Giving them away for free will seriously limit the gov's ability to make money on this. You also have the problem of deciding who's worthy of a license and who isn't, otherwise everyone and their dog can apply for a free license.

    2) FM radios aren't necessarily crap. A good FM radio in most areas will beat the pants off a DAB radio quality-wise.

    3) This subsidy will be non-trivial in terms of cost. The cheapest, crappiest DAB radio you can get costs £25 from Argos. And for some reason all DAB radios are in the ancient mono "portable" stylee, instead of in the stereo "ghetto blaster" style. In comparison, I can get a cheap radio from Argos for a tenner, or off a market stall anywhere in Britain for a fiver.

    4) The reason for this is that the chips for DAB are a damn sight more expensive, because they need orders of magnitude more processing on them. Expect an extra tenner on the cost of every phone.

    5) It's also more expensive in terms of power consumption - the more processing you need to to, the more juice it needs. So your phone will run down faster with DAB than with FM.

    6) And the final cost is figuring out what to do with thousands of tons of obsolete radios. This is going to be a major headache for the government, bcos although WEEE requires manufacturers to take responsibility for end-of-life recycling, you can expect them to demand government subsidies if all these radios need to be scrapped before the end of their expected lifespan, and all in one go.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Joined up thinking...

    Remember the car scrappage scheme. So a new car produces less harmful emissions than an old one. Great, but how long does it take for that to offeset the environmental damage caused by building the new one, and perhaps more importantly scrapping the old one?

    Likewise we are all being encouraged to scrap our boilers in favour of more environmentally friendly ones. We're in a similar situation with other white goods too.

    Digital radio is even more fun from an environmental point of view. On top of the damage caused by building the new one and scrapping the old one you have the fact that new device uses more electricity than the old one. Brilliant. On the one hand we have a government who are telling us we need to replace all our energy consuming devices with more efficient ones and yet the same government wants us to replace our current radios with ones that are much less efficient.

    Either they are serious about environmental issues or they aren't. Which is it guys?

    They've missed another trick too. DAB does not include any DRM. I'll bet Mandy's kicking himself over the missed opportunity. Although perhaps not. It could all be a cunning plan on behalf of the record industry, who'd want pirate copies of music recorded at a low sampling rate and complete with bubbling mud?

  29. POPE Mad Mitch
    FAIL

    I like driving in my car

    I'm sure i will not be alone in saying that the only real chance i get to listen to the radio is when i am in the car driving to/from work. I got a brand new large family car less than two years ago, fairly high model, electronic just about everything, and a DAB radio wasnt even listed as an option.

    If you want to get the masses to listen to digital radio your going to have to convince the motor industry to fit a DAB radio into -every- car, not just top end, or as a several hundred quid upgrade, but in every car shipped right down to the cheapest billy basic models.

  30. Nigel 11
    Megaphone

    And the other 6%?

    Have they considered the six percent who won't be able to receive DAB? (By their own figures).

    It would be bad enough if these people were evenly spread across the country, but they won't be. They'll be concentrated in sparsely populated rural parts. In certain MPs constituencies, they'll be a majority. About time to start raising awareness of this issue amongst these MPs, so that they can't say that they didn't know?

    BTW, I've tried DAB in a car, and it simply doesn't work. By that I mean it cannot handle driving through patches of bad radio quality with sufficient grace to be listen-able. So as well as rural constituents, there will be a huge backlash if the FM service is ever turned off. Better to start by going back to the drawing board, to invent a more robust digital transmission format for transmitting to moving vehicles.

  31. Paul 25

    Subsidy

    It'll have to be a fairly sizeable subsidy. I have seven FM radios, including the car.

    Since the cheapest DAB radio is about £25 (and that's for a really crap one) I have felt no desire to splash out on replacing them all with DAB to get no noticeable improvement in quality (at £25 it's the speaker and amp that make the difference not the broadcast tech), and only one more channel that I might listen to (BBC7), but probably won't.

    Until they get the cost of the gear down, and significantly improve the power performance I won't be buying.

    My portable Sony cost £12, sounds fine, and runs on a pair of rechargeable AAs for about 6 months. The cheapest small DAB receiver I can find it £25, and uses 6 AAs. I'm not spending £25+ just to listen to the radio in the shower.

    I just don't get what problem DAB is trying to solve for most people.

    Given the battle the BBC has every time it suggests turning off Radio 4 Long wave, expect a bloody revolution if they try to turn of FM in the next 5 years.

  32. Inachu
    Alert

    Ewwww!!!!!

    I hate the idea of digital only radio.

    Even if they invented a analougue digital emulator that makes it feel like it is analog is

    still pure fail.

    The only reason I can see for goign digital is to track who is listening to you

    as to better send you whatever propaganda.

    This makes me want to throw all my electronics out the window!

    Nasty Nasty Nasty!

  33. Neil Kay
    Thumb Down

    Scrappage?

    "...Also the scrappage scheme can include a subsidy so that luddites (read Reg readers) can swap their perfectly adequate AM/FM/LW radios for a nice little DAB set that allows you to receive in mono that which was previously in damn good quality stereo - that's if you can even get the radio to produce more than some meaningless burble and gibberish, especially when its raining."

    FTFY.

  34. accountant
    FAIL

    Irrational decision making. Again.

    OK, so DAB hasn't worked as well as expected, the great DAB experiment on the apathetic British public has turned into a damp squib, the quality of the DAB outcome is miserable for many.

    So the rational thing to do is to do nothing until there is a better alternative to FM. In the meantime, everybody who has sunk money into the venture can write it off as sunk and cut their losses.

    But the Lords - like the traditional British parliamentary institution - takes a mistake and compounds it by coercive irrationality. Why? Because they have this irrational, emotional stupidity about wasting speculative spending on sunk costs. What about "speculation" do they not understand?

    "It doesn't work, so... let's make it mandatory!"

    I'm more than happy with the limited number of stations available on analogue FM. It means less space for garbage. Look at the overall result of digital television. Even the documentary channels are garbagised-down to the menality of fickle teenagers, yet these channels cost the punter a fortune (and they don't even provide free sea-sick pills to help the viewer cope with obtuse camera angles and erratic zoom-in-zoom-out-wow-cool-trendy-patronising-you-love-it-really-innit?). Worst, these channels are frequently bundled in with billions of channels of utter crap, made by chavs for chavs, because apparently that's what the customer wants.

    Digital television is the template for digital radio. Garbage sold by cartels at a premium. No thanks.

  35. Nathan 13

    Better idea

    Spend the money on something people do want... like a decent broadband service in this country for everyone.

    DAB is shit and with internet radio pointless really. FM radio still has proper uses, many mobiles have FM tuners, pocket tuners are great for a day out etc etc

    And FM radio is more environmentally friendly compared with battery eating DAB. DAB should have a fuel tax on it of 70p in the £1for batteries, like petrol does lol

  36. caffeine addict Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    But we don't want DAB...

    When DAB first appeared I jumped on it like the geek I am. Now I'd happily ditch it completely if Planet Rock and BBC7 were on analog.

    The transmissions just aren't up to it. We can't listen to the DAB in the living room if the cooker or the microwave are on, and we can't listen to the one in the bedroom if next door is using her hoover.

    Oh, and the one in the garages next to useless as the battery drains so quickly I need to rig up an extension lead for it.

    I'd rather have the static than the bubbling mud...

  37. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
    Grenade

    Government lead with Lordy advice? ....... you're 'avin a larf, mate.

    ""The Government must ensure that advice goes to retailers and the public that when purchasing radios, consumers should purchase sets that include a digital tuner.""

    If the Government had any real balls or clout in anything they do, rather than relying on pathetic ignorant apathy to stay in their position of delusional power, they would ensure that only radios with a digital tuner were available for sale. And such abuse of apathy is an intelligence weapon used to prosecute smash and grab raids on both friend and foe as is revealed right at the start of this short leaky document ...... http://file.wikileaks.org/file/cia-afghanistan.pdf

    And if you are spooked into not opening that pdf, this is the relevent "pronounced "out-of-the-box""quote from it, charged by the Director of Intelligence ...... "The fall of the Dutch Government over its troop commitment to Afghanistan demonstrates the fragility of European support for the NATO-led ISAF mission. Some NATO states, notably France and Germany, have counted on public apathy about Afghanistan to increase their contributions to the mission, but indifference might turn into active hostility if spring and summer fighting results in an upsurge in military or Afghan civilian casualties and if a Dutchstyle debate spills over into other states contributing troops. The Red Cell invited a CIA expert on strategic communication and analysts following public opinion at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) to consider information approaches that might better link the Afghan mission to the priorities of French, German, and other Western European publics."

    And I thought for a moment there, Andrew, that you had gone all sexually funky and super liberated with that sub-title ...."Cash for trannies scheme, more ads" :-)

  38. Oliver Mayes

    Fantastic

    "To go back on this policy now would risk turning confusion into an utter shambles"

    Translation: "We were wrong, but changing our minds now would make us look like we don't know what we're talking about. So we're going to carry on regardless and you will fall into line."

    I've got a DAB alarm clock which constantly loses reception and it's time signal and as soon as it wears out (I give it another few months at most) I'll be going back to a good old FM radio. The stereo in my car is also FM and works fine, if I switch that one to DAB it'll be pretty much unusable with the crappy signal strength around here.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @yoinkster

    lucky they've changed the way they count radios as if there's a (no doubt useless reception) FM radio on your MP3 player then you'd have been counted as someone who'd bought a radio and thus lost your specialness

  40. James 127
    Go

    ...and why not!

    ...most of the people I know now don't own an analogue radio anyway (not even in there car) so why not.

  41. paulf Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Possible solution

    I can't help thinking that the best way to solve this is to mandate that all radios sold must be capable of DAB reception. It'll take longer to switch over as we'd have to wait for a substantial proportion of the existing FM radios to die which could be another 10+ years*, but no one would have to throw out perfectly good FM radios, and there would no longer be on sale FM only radios that would be rendered obsolete by any switch over.

    Of course if this had been mandated 3-5 years ago this would have been less painful as there would be fewer FM only sets out there, and more DAB capable sets out there which would have possibly attracted more listeners to the DAB only stations like Planet Rock (saved from closure once) and BBC 6music (closure pending).

    *My old Sony FM portable, which doubles as my alarm clock and thus has regular use, has just turned 17, and still going strong! Not bad for £50. So I can empathise with those who have steam coming out their ears about dumping their old sets.

    1. Chemist

      Re : Possible solution

      The best way to solve this 'problem' is to admit that it doesn't actually NEED a solution. It adds almost nothing compared to current analogue reception and annoys the hell out of most people who know about the proposed switch-off. It WILL annoy a hell of a lot more when the rest twig.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Insults abound

      but are you seriously saying that you either only know people who do not have cars, or ones so rich they opt for every gadget! Every car has had a radio fitted as standard for several decades.

      I'm sure that even if you have the most expensive media player in the world in your car, that there is probably an analogue radio hidden in it somewhere. After all, a single chip radio adds almost nothing to the cost of a device, so why would they not throw one in!

      Ditto radio alarm clocks and portable media players. Do you not know anybody with a latest gen. iPod Nano or a recent Nokia phone.

      I suspect that when asked whether they have an analogue radio, most of your friends say "dunno, I've never looked".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Confused?

      James, no, you're confusing a digital display on a radio with digital radio. Bless.

    4. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      learn to spell

      Moran

    5. Tom 35 Silver badge

      DAB is already out of date.

      In 10 years it will be about as useful as a 10 year old computer.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re : ...and why not!

      You must know a large percentage of the people in the UK with a DAB car radio - I'm impressed !

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Alternatively

        There is a possibility that you haven't considered. Our poster doesn't know many people. Pretty likely when you think about it.

    7. SteveMe

      FM will never be obsolete - it is too good

      You are proud of your long-lived FM set. My oldest was bought in 1966, and still gives great HiFi. I have 6 other FM sets in the house, the most recent only 3 years old, an investment which would now be valued in the thousands. This whole idea has been dreamed up to stimulated a saturated market, needing other ways of selling what everybody already has and need s no replacement. The makers should have thought of built-in obsolescence.

    8. Trygve
      FAIL

      Oh what a brilliant idea...

      Mandate that every compact low-power all-analogue £2 FM unit must include a bulky high power consuming £5 DAB decoding chip. That's just brilliant, that is!

      Maybe we could apply the same logic and mandate that every vehicle sold should have an integrated hybrid engine - including bicycles?

  42. Piro
    Thumb Down

    No

    I won't buy into DAB, simple as that.

    They've also been faffing about with DAB+, and haven't got it out of the door quick enough. Regular DAB encoding is not fit for purpose, DAB+ should be, but won't be backwards compatible.

    I'm not buying into an inferior standard when the stuff I have works fine.

  43. Rod MacLean
    Joke

    "Cash for trannies scheme"

    That sounds like it might suit certain members of the House of Lords a great deal.

    The Ladyboys of Bangkok won't lose out either!

  44. The BigYin
    FAIL

    FFS

    DAB quality is crap.

    DAB coverage is crap.

    DAB sets costs more.

    DAB takes more to manufacture.

    DAB sets draw more power.

    DAB means millions of (perfectly good) radios going to landfill.

    I thought we were all mean to be saving the planet or something?

    I wonder how many of our fearless leaders have shares in companies with DAB interests?

  45. The Unexpected Bill
    Flame

    Analog Radio across the puddle

    I'm surprised that nobody from the other side of the "pond" has responded to this, primarily because I see this turning into a "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" sort of thing. If analog radio broadcasts disappear from the UK, I'm sure some twinkie(tm) in the US government will say "why don't we do that here". Of course, over here it's HD Radio, but it's the same basic (bad) idea. (How's that for stating the obvious?)

    And then everything is going to go to hell in a handbasket. (Digital over the air TV has already done this. I don't care about the advantages and subchannels. You can at least watch or listen to a bad quality signal. The same cannot be said of digital OTA TV. So I don't watch TV any more. Not that it was a big loss.)

    Anyway...if such a change were to be mandated here in the US, I know that it would put a serious crimp in my style, as well as the style of others who collect, restore and enjoy antique radios. I really enjoy listening to the vintage sets I have, some of which could fairly be said to have better tuners than a lot of the radios sold today. Call me silly but it would not be the same to listen through a digital to analog converter, if such devices are even offered for sale.

    That's my other point...the HD Radio tuners that I've played with so far are really total crap. They don't have good analog tuning performance, most can't be forced to play analog broadcasts only (to stop an endless switching game between HD and analog when the signal is "on the fence") unless you hack the circuitry and the prices are too high for what you get. Compared to a good analog radio tuner, the audio is of bad quality, perhaps even slightly overdriven. What's more, I can't get HD Radio signals like I can get analog AM and FM signals. Analog FM over a rooftop antenna will bring me stations from 75 miles away (with acceptable listening quality). I'm lucky to get HD Radio from thirty miles away. A good old long wire AM antenna has stations coming in well from hundreds of miles away. Of course, HD Radio won't just fade out, or be able to be switched to monophonic reception...it will just stop working.

    I'd hope that DAB was better if I ever had occasion to be in a place where it was in use, but it doesn't sound like it from reading these comments.

    So I hope it doesn't come to the thought of a forced transition, because then I'm going to have to become very busy writing elected officials about what a Bad Idea this would be.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not about technology..

    ...it's about listening to what you're allowed to listen to.

    When I was a lad and dinosaurs ruled the earth (groan by all means but bear with me) we had a huge valve-operated medium/short wave radio. And no - despite what we see today in movies and TV dramas it didn't sound like an iplayer under water or we wouldn't have bought it - with a 12" speaker, it sounded fine, albeit mono. With it, we listened to radio programmes throughout Europe and further. On a good day we got news bulletins from across the globe. Music was available almost 24/7 from somewhere or other - language hardly mattered.

    Then came FM - and we could listen only to signals from a few miles away. But fortunately, most receivers had AM too for many years.

    Now we have DAB - if and when it works, which in my experience isn't well and isn't often. I suspect the govt's interest now lies in the promise that it is such short range that we can only listen to what someone has decided we can listen to.

    Which is not only suspect but fairly stupid, given that satellite TV is very quickly filling the gap. IMHO, if DAB is the only source left for ordinary radio reception, then most people won't bother with a radio at all.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Cash for trannies?

    Cragslist is good for that... "cash-for-trannies" scheme... huh huh heh huh heh :-)

    Coming from the House of Lords, that doesn't surprise me.

  48. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @Possible solution

    >mandate that all radios sold must be capable of DAB reception

    Ban FM tuners? So banning all iPods, most mobile phones etc?

    Why not just mandate that all DAB radios have 3G then we can get rid of DAB and re-use that spectrum? cheaper, quicker and more practical.

  49. No 3

    Radio (be it analog or digital) is dead

    Was in the UK a few years ago, drove from London to Edinburgh and back.

    I tried listening to the radio, I couldn't stand it.

    Fortunately I had my Sirius Sat radio with me with tons of content I recorded off the bird here in North America and listened to that for the whole journey.

    Radio as a medium is dead, it offers NOTHING above anything else, and has alot of stuff people don't want. Every once in a while I try listening to terrestrial radio here, I don't make it very far.

    It may sound ridiculous to some, but I say don't mock until you try it: pay radio is the future.

    DAB? It's just another stab by a dying industry to stay alive.

    1. Steve X
      FAIL

      You must be kidding!

      Sirius? Better than UK radio?

      Sirius is like listening to someone else's iPod with a few dozen 10 song looped playlists and adverts. I've tried it a few times in US rental cars, with the limited choice and crap reception quality (it disappears even when you d\rive under a TREE, never mind a highway overpass FFS) I quickly turned back to boring old FM.

      Digital media these days seems to mean quantity over quality so that they can sell even more advertising space. That bubble has to burst soon.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Kevin 3

    "and with DAB+ it will go altogether - an additional Reed-Solomon encode will correct these low-rate errors completely."

    Sorry Kev old chap, but DAB+ is irrelevant. It will not go away with DAB+ because unfortunately for you and your rose tinted digital bins the powers that be have already clearly stated that DAB+ will not be implemented in the UK. The reason being that they don't want to piss off all the people who have bothered to buy DAB receivers and there simply isn't the bandwidth to run DAB+ in parallel with DAB.

    Actually there probably is enough bandwidth except that they have already reserved a big chunk of the existing FM range for "community stations" whatever they are and are planning to sell of most of the other bandwidth that will be freed up. So for "their isn't enough bandwidth" you can read "we're not going to provide enough bandwidth"

    And as for the power consumption the fact that DAB can be transmitted at a lower power output is irrelevant. It's irrelevant because the transmitters may use a fair chunk less power, but the receivers use many times the power of FM receivers. Anyway the bloody appalling DAB signal in many areas makes it clear that it is being transmitted at far too low a power output for most of the country. If DAB requires such a low transmission power how come I can get clear FM signals from FM stations who's nearest transmitter is bloody miles away, but I can't get DAB stations from transmitters that are much nearer?

    I live near a huge transmitter (two miles) and so the signal strength is good and sound quality is acceptable. Some channels are even as good as FM, some are not but that's not the fault of DAB per se but the fault of the channel using a low bit rate. However the choice of channels is awful. We get the national BBC stations and some crap commercial stations. Loads of other stations including the local BBC stuff are missing. Oddly on FM I can get perfectly clear BBC local signals from our local station and three of the neighbouring counties. On DAB I can't even get our local station. The fact that our local station isn't transmitted from our local transmitter is not the fault of DAB as a technology, it's the fault of idiots in suits. The fact that I can't get it from another transmitter almost certainly is the fault of DAB.

  51. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    DAB+

    These guys sound like a real pack of assholes to keep pushing DAB when people don't want it.

    I wouldn't either from the description of it... inadequate error correction so it breaks up easily, low bit rates (if MP2 needs 160kbps for FM quality, running it at 128kbps or below is just plain stuipd), plus of course tossing your radios.

    The worst of it, it's NOT that much spectrum! 900mhz GSM originally had 25mhz of upstream spectrum and 25mhz down; an additional 10 up, 10 down was added later. This is 70mhz total. 1800mhz is just a bit over 74mhz down and 74mhz up, just a bit over 149mhz total. The FM band is 20.5mhz. The funny part of it is, the DAB band takes up just a bit over 20mhz too.

    My recommendation: If they are going to insist on forcing digital radio down people's throats,

    then have all new receivers support DAB+. And get some stations out in DAB+. The error correction is far superior (stations that have "burbling mud" now will be fully corrected and sound perfect...) and the AAC+ audio encoding, they say a 64kbps stream sounds as good as 192kbps MP2.

  52. heyrick Silver badge

    The Lordships say too much has been invested by the public in DAB

    I *like* Betamax. Okay, it isn't as good as digital methods, but until HiFi audio came along on VHS decks, Beta was my format of choice. Even now, a crappy ANCIENT beta player can outdo a modern multi-head highly-integrated whoo-hoo VHS deck.

    And judging by how many Betas I used to see, there was a fairly good market until VHS eventually won and Beta faded away.

    Likewise should be the result of DAB. I have in my room a little radio with a speaker on it. Takes three AA cells, runs for _MONTHS_ and picks up plenty of stations.

    Show me a DAB receiver of any type ever invented that can do that. In fact, without a power brick or a bloody huge battery, I'd be inclined to think you'd be lucky to get a mere fraction of that lifespan between swaps/charges. And out of interest, how well does DAB do when driving, actually on the move?

    DAB is a big lemon. There are plenty of digital methods around, for those so inclined, but then there's the simple approach. Good ol' fashioned analogue radio. You can't "sex up" radio. You can't add red button junk to radio. You can just about do RDS for song titles and such, but a sixty year old valve radio will happily play the station ignoring the digital era. And this is how it should be.

    Leave radio the hell alone.

  53. heyrick Silver badge
    Grenade

    What we need...

    ...is an enterprising hacker-type to see if there is a way to take down huge chunks of the FM radio transmissions in the UK. A proof-of-concept "this is what it will mean" when people actually realise what the transition to DAB will be.

    .

    I know a dozen people with DAB receivers... back in their boxes, in the loft or the back of the cupboard by the kitchen.

    I'm very pleased for those who have DAB, and the bloke that got the old lady up to speed with her DAB. But the sad reality is likely to be quite different. Like Freeview, some people will be lucky enough to have good clear reception (although FM quality it isn't). Some people will get reception provided the weather is good and no other electrical device in 50 metres is operating. And some will just get nothing. Sad reality because I think the first group is a much smaller number than the last group.

    With FM you can put up with the odd bit of interference. Hissing in the sound. Maybe, like if you use an underground tunnel in a railway station, it'll get quite hissy, but still enough to hear your programming. DAB, being digital, suffers from the same problems that blight Freeview (and badly installed satellite). That is, the ability of the receiver to recover from errors means that it can accept a variety of qualities of input signal. But stray a tiny bit beyond what the error correction can cope with and you'll get jibberish. A tiny but further, nothing. It'll just give up because trying to play a totally messed up signal would be painful. There's no fade-out, just good to gone with a tiny hiccup of crap. But, hey, you probably know the same issues for mobile phones, where it goes "twangy" before dropping the line on you.

    The march of technology is often a good thing. I'm writing this on a miniature computer that is connected to absolutely no wires of any kind while waiting for my rice to cook. I have an MP3 player providing music (the computer could do it, I suppose, but it means swapping SD cards). The one in the computer, a thing smaller than an old 50P coin, contains around 9 hours of stuff recorded off the telly. Digitally. British telly, many hundreds of miles away from Britain. Technology rocks, so long as it isn't a bomb with AI. That wouldn't rock.

    However, and this is very important, all of the above examples I just listen provide enhancements. A small portable, yet powerful, computer. A little thing with a hundred or more songs on it. Think of nine hours of video tapes compared to an SD card. Think of a video deck compared to a decent digital recorder. I can't get French TV, too far from any sort of signal, but I can get - in lovely quality - all the BBC regions, plus loads of other channels. I grew up with the BBC micro and the leap in tech from then and now is nothing short of amazing.

    But to take good, efficient, widely available radio and replace it with something that offers worse quality when it is working, much more restrictive zones of operation, much more sensitivity to sources of interference (what FM was designed to get around, as AM is quite susceptible), not to mention laughing in the face of efficiency (the chip may be so efficient that it's an embedded system designer's wet dream, but it's still not a patch on any cheap FM radio)... Really, I think Hermann Hauser would call this evolution a "retrograde step".

  54. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    Lords: Anal ...

    What?

  55. Steve Brooks

    DAB DEAD

    As usual with technology it will develop in the direction that people want to go. Time and again governments have tried pushing develpopment, only to find it spear off into a completely unexpected direction, the more money they throw at trying to guide technology, the more money they end up throwing away. Its likely that by the time DAB has exanded to provide coverage to 94% of the population streaming radio from the internet will be encroaching on that traditional market and DAB will fail before it even starts. best let the market, led by the people, decide what they want. I mean even where the big corporations try to force people to follow thier rules they are just ignored (RIAA et al and file sharing) what makes the governments of any country think they will fare any better.

  56. kevin biswas

    Wont someone think of the old people.....

    Who are the most avid radio listeners and the least likely to be able to manage the new technology effectively. I too love radios for their simplicity. One dial for tuning, one for volume and maybe an am/fm switch. Great UI.

    1. Glyn 2

      direction?

      I dunno, digital TV was pushed onto us by the government and there aren't many people who wanted 120 channels of garbage that are physically barely watchable (as well as the impact on your soul of watching Viva for 2 minutes)

      Since I've gone digital I've had to give up watching telly as the sound cutting out and the picture breaking up like a spectrum loading screen all the time, means it just isn't worth the effort to figure out what's going on, who said what and what program I'm watching anyway.

      I'd have settled for 1 channel of quality programs over 120 channels of top gear repeats, RnB videos and dodgy adverts

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Digital TV?

        Dgitial TV was indeed pushed onto us and we were lied to in the process. We were promised huge numbers of channels. Did they ever arrive? Nope. We have the +1 channels which are a waste of bandwidth, the shopping and quiz channels that are a waste of bandwidth, the channels that are counted as two when there is only really one (think CBBC and BBC3) and the red button channels which don't count as channels.

        I can't remember the numbers, but I think they were talking about something like fifty channels of real content. If you take away the shopping and quiz channels, the red button channels and the double counting how many real channels are there left?

        The promise of extra channels on digital radio is meaningless. Research has shown that the majority of radio listeners stick to the same channel most of the time. Would having twice as many channels on DAB change this?

        So DAB has more channels and better sound quality does it? That would be no and no. So why do they expect people to pay a premium for it? If they want people to spend lots of money "upgrading" to DAB (or indeed any other form of digital radio) they need to give some sort of incentive. So far they haven't thought of one other than "we'll switch analogue off".

  57. Beanzy
    Thumb Down

    A greedy weak format gets support from the lords..... surprise surspise!

    DAB is too compromised in terms of it's design of spectrum use and compression used in transmission. The signals are way too easily attenuated due to their low power and poor ability to permeate obstructions. So rather than force us all to adopt an inefficient system designed to cram as much data as possible into tiny band slots, why not get less greedy and re-design it; with wider channel allocations, better signal transmission strength and compression which doesn't introduce so many artefacts it becomes a worse listening experience then analogue FM?

    Simple greed having too much influence in the early stages of format design.

  58. JohnG

    World, not just UK

    It may have escaped the Lords' attention but FM receivers are used worldwide and are built into various devices designed and manufactured for a global market. I have FM receivers in two MP3 players, my mobile phone, two Internet radios, my car. Additionally, my navigation system has an FM receiver which retrieves TMC data from various radio stations here in Germany and also in France, Belgium, etc.

    Conversely, I don't know anyone with a DAB receiver or plans to buy one.

  59. TeeCee Gold badge
    FAIL

    Oh, really?

    "To go back on this policy now would risk turning confusion into an utter shambles"

    @The house of Lords: Try sticking your fucking heads out of the window and having a look outside once in a while. In the real world an "utter shambles" would be an improvement on the current situation.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    DAB sounds awful

    I can't stand the sound quality from DAB, the bit rates are terrible and all the government are trying to do if free up bandwidth that they can sell.

    1. Glyn 2

      sell

      To whom are they going to sell the bandwidth to, is the question?

  61. Mal Franks

    FM going no skin off my nose

    been a few years since there was anything I'd want to listen to live on FM.

    The clock radio is DAB and so I can listen to 6 Music (til the feckers close it down) and at the computer I use iPlayer for the few Radio 4 shows I want to hear.

  62. TeraTelnet
    Boffin

    Northern Ireland poorly served by DAB

    There's also the small point that Northern Ireland's only non-BBC multiplex carries about six or seven commercial stations and that's it. Not exactly the hundreds of channels that are touted elsewhere.

    Plus the Beeb is having to add seven new transmitters in order to get a half-decent signal out for their channels. The commerical mux is also going to have to expand the transmitter network to improve coverage and signal strength.

    I'm also told that the fact that the Republic is still using Band 3 for some of its analogue television signals causes difficulties with DAB transmission in Northern Ireland, so matters may not improve until the South switches that off.

  63. Mike H.
    Thumb Down

    Dab or Internet?

    Why on earth would I be interested in Dab Radio at home or perhaps even on the move when there is Internet radio already available and a far greater choice of stations?

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wouldn't it be nice if...

    ...we could have some kind of elected representatives to tell the government that we don't want digital radio, and that we prefer to keep analogue radio?

    Oh wait, they're called MPs and they were all bribed, suborned, or browbeaten by the government long ago.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Internet?

      Sounds like a good idea, were it not for the fact that 3G coverage is worse than DAB coverage. When I'm out and about driving, walking, running or cycling I find FM does the job just fine. DAB or 3G on the other hand uses more power and the coverage is patchy at best.

      Again it has to be said: FM ain't broke, so why are we trying to fix it.

  65. Chris_B

    Pirate Radio?

    I can see a lot of pirate radios popping up again to fill the FM void.

    Long live Radio Caroline

  66. Dan 55 Silver badge
    FAIL

    "too much has been invested by the public in DAB"

    The Lords are still going about this the wrong way around. If they want to upgrade the nation there should be mandatory DAB/DAB+/FM sets and firmware updates for older DAB sets to turn them into DAB+, then a switch should be flicked somewhere in between 2015 and 2020 in transmitters to make DAB+ the standard.

    If it's so easy to get right, how do they manage to get it so wrong?

  67. Simon B
    FAIL

    DAB = What signal??!

    I've a portable DAB player, it's crap! signal keeps getting lost, analogue works fine. DABS lost with me.

  68. mikeyt

    e-petition

    the e-petition is here http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/VHFvsDAB/

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