back to article FM now stands for 'fleeting mortality' in Norway

Norway has become the first country in the world to shut down FM radio. The Scandinavian nation has begun a gradual shutdown that will see FM broadcasts start to be phased out later this month, and concluding entirely by the end of the year. Nationwide broadcasts will instead be offered through digital radio channels. The …

  1. Ledswinger Silver badge

    $28m a year?

    Wow. Was it worth the upheaval and the vast expense to save a frankly trivial amount n what is (per capita) one of the world's richest countries?

    And judging by the UK's misguided adventures in DAB, the idea that it is either cheaper or easier to get better DAB coverage over FM in unfavourable terrain is nonsense. As for "better sound quality", what had he been smoking?

    At leas this confirms the universal stupidity of politicians.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: $28m a year?

      Receivers are capable of DAB and DAB+, radio stations will probably fully switch to DAB+ this year. The bandwidth given to each station is higher than the UK's swampy efforts. Government also hands out free* car conversion kits.

      * well yes, financed from taxes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: $28m a year?

        Where are these 'free' conversion kits. I had to go and buy one for my wifes car. I'm not buying one for mine, I will do without radio. I'm in the north so FM goes in 10 days. With half of the populations cars here in Norway not supporting DAB, kind of stupid turning off FM, but good for the companies making DAB radios and conversion kits.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: $28m a year?

          The car conversion kits in Norway cost the equivalent of £140. Not free.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: $28m a year?

            "The car conversion kits in Norway cost the equivalent of £140. Not free."

            Sounds expensive. A quick Google find quite a few for far less than that price.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: $28m a year?

              One of the cheapest: http://www.clasohlson.com/no/Denver-DAB+-mottaker-for-bilstereo-/38-7687 : ~£67

              One of the recommended : http://www.clasohlson.com/no/Tiny-Audio-C3+-DAB+-FM-biladapter-/38-6251-1 : ~£134

          2. Dan 55 Silver badge
            Alert

            Re: $28m a year?

            The car conversion kits in Norway cost the equivalent of £140. Not free.

            That'll teach me to believe what I read on the Internet.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: $28m a year?

      Speaking as someone who used to work in the broadcasting industry and specifically DAB - Norway are nuts. I don't know how audiences are measured in Norway but if they're done as they are in this country some stations will suffer seriously. There's a reason that our (misguided*) DAB switchover is only happening when we've got most people on digital listening. *I say misguided because the target is digital listening not DAB listening and some of what's classed as digital listening by RAJAR might not actually be like Mobile Phones. On top of that there always was when I was working in the industry questions about RAJAR. No one will come out and say this when they're in the industry because no one can afford to shake the confidence the advertisers have in the data. If you're going to lose 60% of your audience virtually overnight then that's not going to go down well with the advertisers and I doubt the projected savings will cover that. Some of those listeners won't come back as they discover alternatives and it takes far more effort/cost to get a listener back than it does to keep them. Also need to factor in more stations equals less listeners per station and the same advertising money split more ways. Plus when running a station why would you want something that allows people to easily find and switch stations? The only thing you can do on DAB that you can't do on FM is have more stations (depending on the bit rate used) everything else can be done by RDS/EON etc.

      Still....Best of luck to them.

  2. davyclam

    When I worked in Norge on the coast near Trondheim I could listen to BBC radio 5, radio Scotland and radio 4 on MW/LW on my car radio, I believe broadcast from the Burghead transmitter. All is not lost, they'll get the cricket and ISIHAC, plus Robbie Shepherd.

    1. wyatt

      A shame I didn't know this when working at Orland Air Base, would have been a slight bonus.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is my experience that UK FM holds up well at times of poor reception - whereas UK DAB often "burbles" or blanks completely.

    Do other variants of DAB perform better than the UK one?

    1. Vic

      Do other variants of DAB perform better than the UK one?

      In terms of sound quality, they do. The UK forged ahead with DAB, making a switch to DAB+ rather harder than it should have been. You know how crap MP3s can sound? DAB is restricted to MP2 *only*.

      I doubt that will make any difference to the dropout rate, though.

      Vic.

  4. Christian Berger Silver badge

    It's not the first country

    Australia already shut it down in 1961:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FM_broadcasting_in_Australia

    1. Andrew Commons

      Re: It's not the first country

      Well Wikipedia says this in the link you have provided:

      "Today, as elsewhere in the developed world, most Australian broadcasting is on FM - although AM talk stations are still very popular."

      It came back.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: It's not the first country

        Who says Norway might not get back to FM? Or perhaps have a new generation of FM stations? Pirate stations perhaps. Since DAB covers Band III and FM covers Band II, there's no reason both standards can't coexist.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: It's not the first country

          All bets are on the FM bands getting sold for massive amounts of money to companies that will make massive amounts of profit on those bands. And enforcement on FM radio transmitters will probably be strict and severe.

          1. Christian Berger Silver badge

            Re: It's not the first country

            FM-transmitters are so simple to build yourself that it's virtually impossible to regulate them.

            Broadcast Band II is kinda impossible to use for non proadcast applications as it's to low in frequency and to narrow for serious cellular applications. You could use it for paging... but then again our paging networks are already kinda dying.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It's not the first country

              FM-transmitters are so simple to build yourself that it's virtually impossible to regulate them.

              Go to this page and do a search from 87MHz—108MHz… are you arguing those licensees listed are doing it illegally?

      2. coconuthead

        Re: It's not the first country

        The main reason AM hangs around here in Australia is that several of those "talk" stations are run by the government broadcaster (the ABC, like the BBC) and have a major function as emergency broadcasters during natural disasters. In the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 the 774kHz service broadcast from near Melbourne was by far the main information/emergency information channel for people threatened by the fires. Mains power had failed in those areas (usual with fires), the emergency web sites collapsed under the load, and there was mobile phone tower congestion. But almost everyone had an AM radio, especially in their cars and knew to tune in to that frequency.

        In normal times, 774 is a talk station with some serious political coverage.

        The 774 transmitter is very powerful and can be heard for hundreds of km. This is not so for DAB. AFAIK most or all of the DAB+ standard enhancements to DAB were designed in Australia for the express purpose of replacing 774 and its sister statiions, and then the standard gifted to the rest of the world.

        However, typically cars here still have only AM and FM, so 774 can't be shut down yet, probably for a decade or more.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's not the first country

      My FM set begs to differ.

  5. DrXym Silver badge

    DAB+

    Every country should start dumping FM and free the space for DAB+ with a plan to sunset DAB a few years on from that.

    The problem with digital radio was it came too soon, at least in the UK. DAB uses a crappy MP2 audio codec. DAB+ flipped to AAC allowing better quality for a lower bitrate.

    1. Credas Silver badge

      Re: DAB+

      Hey, great idea - let's follow the TV model and obsolete our radios every few years as well. Did you have a date in mind for sunsetting that old school DAB+?

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: DAB+

        Yes it is a great idea. It means you get to watch TV in high definition, with more channels, while using less of the radio spectrum.

        Though perhaps you prefer 4:3 405 line monochrome analogue because nothing should change ever.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: DAB+ DrXym

          Its more a question of replacing 4K full colour TV with 4K full colour TV with seriously reduced reception and usability cos 'new is better even if it really isn't'

          1. DrXym Silver badge

            Re: DAB+ DrXym

            "Its more a question of replacing 4K full colour TV with 4K full colour TV with seriously reduced reception and usability cos 'new is better even if it really isn't'

            I don't even know what you're talking about here.

          2. druck
            FAIL

            Re: DAB+ DrXym

            Tom7 wrote:

            Its more a question of replacing 4K full colour TV with 4K full colour TV with seriously reduced reception and usability cos 'new is better even if it really isn't'
            No its more like going from 4K back to SD, most of the DAB channels are mono rather than stereo and at bit rates that give audio quality up there with telephone hold music.

            It wasn't until Freeview HD arrived that I got a better digital pictures than with a good analogue signal. The artifact riddled Freeview SD was awful even before they reduced the bit rate to fit in all the shopping and +1 channels. Maybe the difference between DAB and DAB+ would be the same leap as Freeview SD to HD, but as it isn't happening in the UK, leave FM the hell alone.

            1. DrXym Silver badge

              Re: DAB+ DrXym

              " No its more like going from 4K back to SD, most of the DAB channels are mono rather than stereo and at bit rates that give audio quality up there with telephone hold music."

              No it's more a case of DAB+ is demonstrably better than FM in every way and that's where the UK should be going. DAB is crap however which is why UK needs to demonstrate some backbone.

              DAB+ should be promoted and FM should be end of lifed in the short term. DAB can transition and end of life. Some people don't appear to comprehend this. Probably the same people flicking over 50+ channels of terrestrial TV without recognizing the irony.

              1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                Re: DAB+ DrXym

                DAB+ is demonstrably better than FM in every way

                Cost for transmitting with more TX per coverage area?

                Cost/complexity for the receivers?

                Cost for replacing radios in perfectly good cars that last 10-20 years but have non-standard fittings (like all fscking cars seem to have now)?

                Battery life for receivers?

                Ability to save money by degrading to shitty bit rates because more channels per mux appear to give more advertising revenues?

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: DAB+ DrXym

                "No it's more a case of DAB+ is demonstrably better than FM in every way and that's where the UK should be going. DAB is crap however which is why UK needs to demonstrate some backbone."

                It's just the leapfrog effect. Early adopters are needed to start the ball rolling but it costs more initially. Then there needs to be an ROI on that initial infrastructure and/or consumer devices. It's the same as it's always been.

                Back in the day, I was jealous of our US friends for having cool stuff like push button phones. When the UK eventually started to modernise the phone system, they installed better kit than most of the US had, so we had better features on the POTS system. Similar applies to cable TV/Internet. We were late to the game, but got better initial kit because of that. With DAB, we were the early adopters so took the early system, made even worse my the accountants who specify mono and low bit rates on a system designed to be descent quality because they wanted more stations in a given multiplex. Just because new shiny is available doesn't mean it's economic to buy/install it and for national infrastructure, that is going to involve more tax payers cash.

              3. JimboSmith Silver badge

                Re: DAB+ DrXym

                With good reception on both systems, apart from extra channels what can DAB/DAB+ offer that FM with RDS/EON etc. doesn't?

                1. TheDillinquent

                  Re: DAB+ DrXym

                  Er.... lots of cash for those selling off the spectrum to telecos?

              4. Kiwi

                Re: DAB+ DrXym

                No it's more a case of DAB+ is demonstrably better than FM in every way and that's where the UK should be going.

                Oh? Is the quality of the content going to somehow be magically better? No? Is it going to have better coverage? No? Is it going to have better quality in fringe reception areas? No? Is it somehow going to magically reduce the road and other noise in your car while you drive? No? What about the acoustics of you house? Still no? Will it magically improve the rest of your audio kit? Another no?

                Then what is it going to do better than FM? I'm in a really fringe area, yet get great FM reception. I'm a little under 100m from the nearest digital TV transmitter, but I can't get any detectable signal from it even on a very high gain antenna. I can tell you that this house was able to receive the old analogue signals from the same mast back when we had them.

                Digital seems to often reduce costs (equipment including receivers need replacing) while reducing overall quality. As others have mentioned, digital tv tends to be quite crap. I've seen enough "HD" to see it often suffers from colour banding and lots of blocky artefacts, and that's on decent kit in good reception areas. Lets not have another idiotic digital failure.

                1. Vic

                  Re: DAB+ DrXym

                  I've seen enough "HD" to see it often suffers from colour banding and lots of blocky artefacts

                  That will be down to economics, not electronics. HD digital TV *can* be transmitted such that most people will not see any artefacts - but that takes up bandwidth, so it costs money. What most stations seem to do now is to wind the quantisation up as far as they think they can get away with, then a bit more besides. You end up using 4 bits per fortnight, but the video is unrecognisable.

                  I was there while digital TV was being developed. The focus was *always* about getting more channels so that there would be more advertising space. And all that happened there was that the advertising rates crashed.

                  Vic.

              5. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: DAB+ DrXym

                Drive through Mid-Wales with your DAB radio.

                Enjoy the silence, broken by occasional burbling, screeching noise and just occasionally a bit of broadcast radio.

                Actually forget that, drive anywhere in the country with even the slightest embankment around it.

                To quote my kids just last week in a hire car.

                "Why does the radio keep turning off?"

        2. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: DAB+

          >Yes it is a great idea. It means you get to watch TV in high definition, with more channels, while using less of the radio spectrum.

          Ah yes, that's what we need, more TV channels.

          >"Listeners will have access to more diverse and pluralistic radio content, and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality," said then-minister of culture Thorhild Widvey. "Digitisation will also greatly improve the emergency preparedness system, facilitate increased competition, and offer new opportunities for innovation and development."

          Such a great idea, he moved on before the project completion.

          Don't get me wrong, digitisation has some advantages, but they are mostly for vendors, not listeners. Listeners can almost certainly get radio stations digitally some other way - streaming or (usually better) podcast. Adding complexity for the same function is pretty dumb and radio is very much a car-based thing now which means that for most people, sound quality is not the be-all and end-all of the medium.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: DAB+ @DrXym

      I totally agree that DAB was rolled out in the UK too early, but it's always difficult difficult to change things once they're generally (if you can say this about DAB) adopted.

      Switching to DAB+ will be disruptive and expensive for those people who have already forked out for kit, and will be disruptive because they will have to reduce the available channels for DAB while they transition to DAB+ (they're not going to allocate any more spectrum during the roll-out).

      Even if they offer a subsidy on new kit, I'm a skinflint, and don't want to re-buy, even at a discount, replacements for the 5 DAB radios I already have.

      Mind you, I don't listen to it much at the moment, because for the coverage for my current commute (the time I use DAB most) is very patchy.

      But I think DAB is dying in the UK. Some of the channels I used to listen to have left DAB as a platform, because (I understand) the cost of operating a DAB station is of the order of a million pounds per year, whereas transmitting over the Internet is much lower, and if you can get DAB somewhere, you're probably also able to get reasonable mobile data service. This shifts the cost of a broadcast service from the provider to the listener. I object to this (did I say I was a skinflint).

      I think that by the time they are prepared to suggest a switch to DAB+, there will be no appetite for any over-the-air digital broadcast radio service any more.

      But I do believe that there is still a place for analogue radio. It's still the best coverage, the best in terms of battery consumption for mobile devices, and the most widely adopted. I also think that it has a place in civil defence, because in the case of some national emergency, the digital infrastructure will be one of the first things to be affected. Operating an FM (or even AM) service is within the reach of a reasonably competent tinkerer in electronics using readily scavenged components, whereas digital broadcasting requires much more sophisticated knowledge and infrastructure.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: DAB+ @DrXym

        "I totally agree that DAB was rolled out in the UK too early, but it's always difficult difficult to change things once they're generally (if you can say this about DAB) adopted."

        No it isn't, not really. All that needs to happen is the appropriate regulatory authority mandates that new kit adopts the new tech and announce that the old tech is going to be switched off on such a date. There is a reasonable period of notice, an overlapping period during which the old and new tech operate side by side to encourage adoption. And then you stick to this timetable.

        Attrition will mean that by the time the date rolls around the majority of people probably have kit that plays the new tech anyway. This has happened enough times for enough tech in enough countries to know it works just fine. It will work fine in Norway.

        The only result of dithering is you now have two technologies to support and all the expense and waste of spectrum that goes with it.

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Re: DAB+ @DrXym

          Yeah because that's going to work with radio so well. We have millions more radios than TV sets in this country and old FM/AM radio sets just keep on working. The figures that Gfk produce about sales don't include certain types of FM receivers but do include DAB in all forms of product I believe. So mobile phones that have an FM radio which are sold don't count as an analogue radio for example. We've only reached the number of sales that we have today by basically only selling sets with FM&DAB (and DAB+ to be able to get the Tick Mark) and mostly not offering analogue radios. A "radio amnesty" giving you money off a new DAB for you old analogue set was also tried.

          Therefore I don't take the number of digital radios vs analogue radios sold as a serious figure. We're not even suggesting shutting off the FM band in this country just moving the popular stations off it a couple of years after we get to a certain percentage of "Digital Listening". We aren't going with a percentage of DAB listening because this would have taken far longer to achieve than people (e.g. commercial broadcasters/government) were willing to wait. We only got the existing analogue stations on board because the government said they could bid for the multiplexes (and therefore become gate keepers) and instead of auctioning the analogue licences at the end of their term rolled them over (and therefore reducing the risk of losing your licence to almost 0%).

          It has taken nearly 20 years and well over a billion quid and we still haven't got 50% of the population listening to DAB. Now you're suggesting that the poor sods who bought DAB/FM or DAB only sets (and that's a fair few of the sets) should be made to junk them. That's going to be about as popular as a combination of sand, deep heat and metal shavings in the vaseline with the public. The other thing is most people only listen to one or two stations and if they get reasonable reception and therefore changing all their radios (my mum has 6 for example excluding her car) is low on the priority list.

          She has one DAB set but only fringe reception inside her house and if anyone moves that radio especially the aerial they're for it, as it reverts to bubbling mud. That's an old one I bought but don't use anymore and had in storage in her loft. Her original expensive Roberts DAB went wrong last year and stopped working. She is loathed to buy another given the expense of doing so when she's got perfectly good analogue ones that still work 30 years later. She only listens to Radio 4 and is happy with the 198kHz service in the bedroom, reception is rock solid.

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: DAB+ @DrXym - Replacement kit

          Your plan does not take into account the restricted spectrum that I mentioned during the transition. I still think it is unlikely that extra spectrum will be allocated during the switchover. Maybe Norway will, but I'm pretty certain that Ofcom in the UK won't.

          You also assume that people are happy to replace functioning equipment after a number of years. I will and do operate kit until it breaks (and if I can, I fix it when it does break), so I expect a DAB radio to last me 10+ years (my oldest DAB radio is about 12 years now, and still functioning). Even at this age, I would be upset about being forced to replace it.

          I know a significant number of people who objected to buying new TVs or set-top boxes in the UK when analog TV was switched off.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: DAB+ @DrXym

        "if you can get DAB somewhere, you're probably also able to get reasonable mobile data service."

        The downside being, of course, that all-you-can-eat mobile data is expensive. A DAB radio is a one-off cost.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: DAB+ @DrXym @John Brown re: mobile data

          and I then followed this up with a statement indicating it was shifting the cost from the broadcaster to the listener, so I have already agreed with your point.

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: DAB+

      I think there are two major problems with DAB (possibly DAB+ too but I cant be arsed to check):

      Changing channel. I only listen to one channel but when the kids come and change channel it seems to take forever - a good couple of seconds so its easy to miss a lot of a program trying to find the bastard. The display knows what's coming but the decoder is still trying to work out what the fuck to do with the KW its consuming.

      Reception. Coverage is unbelievably shit down our way - Devon with lots of hills and valleys and while they may work for a tv aerial and booster its absolutely no good for an indoor reception in new houses - let alone cob walled buggers like mine.

      Should they ever drop fm here I shall probably see if I can make raspberryPi zeros into internet radio reception devices to put into all my current FM devices - at least I wont have to redecorate the house to suit the 'well it looked good on a duke box in 1950' designs cluttering up the shops.

      1. Ogi

        Re: DAB+

        > raspberryPi zeros into internet radio reception devices to put into all my current FM devices

        Personally, what I would do, is see if I can could wire up the PI's to those personal FM transmitters you can buy online for car radios. That way you don't have to modify every single FM receiver in your house, and you have a central place to control it (if you felt like it, you could program the transmitters to use the same frequency the radio station used before, so that it is pretty much seamless, and you keep your stored stations on the radio).

        1. Jan 0
          Pint

          Re: DAB+

          @Ogi

          Thanks for that thought. That's a nice way for me to save my Quad FM2 & 3s from landfill.

          Somebody should start manufacturing suitably camouflaged devices.

      2. Uberseehandel

        Re: DAB+

        Channel switching is important - take too long about it and it is a show stopper.

        A few years ago there were plans for DVB-H (handheld), along with DVB-T (terrestrial), DVB-C (cable) and DVB-S (satellite). Trials went well, most of the technology issues with respect to playout centres and network design were solved and costs were as anticipated. The killer was that it took too long to switch channels, from memory 4 seconds. This channel switch delay sent viewers back to streaming over the internet. Fortunately the mobile networks managed to cope, but there was a lot of serious interest from all the usual suspects across Europe.

        I suspect that if changing channels takes too long on DAB, people will look for other solutions. However, I do notice when changing channels on my online radio app, the delays are irritating.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: DAB+

          The issue of channel switching is a multitude of things - the poor bitrate of audio codec and buffering (fixed by DAB+), the sparcity and power output of transmitters (a commercial decision), and how the groups of channels that are muxed to the same frequency (a commercial decision).

          None of these are a problem of the tech per se but the implementation. Some people seem to things are A-OK with crappy DAB and crappy FM. Both could be fixed with some direction.

      3. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: DAB+

        Spot on, only 1 room at top of our house gets a (just about) listenable DAB signal , FM is fine to listen to everywhere indoors as it degrades gracefully, unlike digital

    4. Kiwi
      Thumb Down

      Re: DAB+

      Every country should start dumping FM and free the space for DAB+ with a plan to sunset DAB a few years on from that.

      Cool. Er, what's the range of a DAB+ transmitter compared to normal FM? How well does the signal cope with hills etc? How well would it's infrastructure cope in something like a natural disaster? Say one where large areas lose power for hours at a time (like can happen in earthquakes) and you have another event to alert people to, like a tsunami warning?

      A couple of months ago, a few hours after some quakes big enough to be reported here on El Reg, I was woken by civil defence sirens. If we'd had DAB radio, not FM or AM, neither I nor many other people would've been able to get vital information. New receivers cost money, and a hell of a lot of people around the world simply cannot afford to replace their electronics just because some idiot thinks it would be a good idea.

      I've not looked at DAB at all, but suspect it might suffer from the same thing with mobile going to 2g then 3g then 4g.. The more "digital" it gets the more towers are needed, with each tower covering less and less area. The more towers, the more reliable power needed in an emergency to keep them running, only in an emergency you don't have reliable electricity. Me and 20,000 of my closest neighbours can tell you all about that.

      As to TV, I've been watching stuff in so-called "high definition" for a long time and seldom bother with broadcast TV. I felt it was a massive waste of resources to digitise NZ tv, and mourned the loss of a couple of smaller private transmitters nearby who offered a really crappy signal and low production values, but content that more than made up for it and was way above the hollywood shitefest we normally have to suffer. (Actually, there is something far far worse than what comes out of hollywood, and that's what comes out of TV NZ - including their main news which I think would make Faux and all the worst tabloids look like decent intelligent balanced reporting!)

  6. Spamfast
    Facepalm

    Ker-ching!

    Never mind the dubious claims that DAB is better quality - it can be but only if the broadcast authorities don't try to squeeze too many channels into the bandwidth - or that it's easier to deploy - which I also find hard to believe.

    I'm thinking about when I'm snowed-in in the middle of nowhere waiting for the snow ploughs to get through with a battery-powered radio. Which would I prefer - FM that'll last a week on one set of batteries ... or DAB that'll last a few hours?

    Idiot politicians no doubt being surreptitiously rewarded by the big business that is going to make a mint out of Joe Q. Public.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Ker-ching!

      I'm thinking about when I'm snowed-in in the middle of nowhere waiting for the snow ploughs to get through with a battery-powered radio. Which would I prefer - FM that'll last a week on one set of batteries ... or DAB that'll last a few hours?

      I don't know about you but in those circumstances I would want a VHF transceiver and a big stack of AA batteries.

      1. Spamfast
        Happy

        Re: Ker-ching!

        I don't know about you but in those circumstances I would want a VHF transceiver and a big stack of AA batteries.

        :-) Well, yes, me too, ideally.

        But it would be nice to have a bit of entertainment while I'm waiting that'll last more than a few hours.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Ker-ching!

      My car has a DAB receiver which also does FM.

      I'd like to compare the quality, but I can't, because there is tyre, wind and engine noise prevalent in the car and what is left from both types of audio is equal.

      But the DAB has more channels and is more convenient to use.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Ker-ching!

        For in-car use you probably won't notice an audio difference on many channels and good reception areas, and really ought not to be arsing around with such comparisons while driving (passages could though)..

        My parents have a DAB/FM radio and on all but Radio 3 the FM quality is better then DAB, again down to commercial decisions on bit rate per mux. Also in the last few years the number of DAB stations has plummeted.

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Ker-ching!

      <i.I'm thinking about when I'm snowed-in in the middle of nowhere waiting for the snow ploughs to get through with a battery-powered radio. Which would I prefer - FM that'll last a week on one set of batteries ... or DAB that'll last a few hours?</I>

      My DAB portable radio that has rechargeable C cells that charge in situ. I plug it in every 3 weeks or so.

      Not too much trouble in a world where people carry power banks to keep their phones working.

      Early DAB sets were battery hungry, but the later ones are much better. Far FAR better than IP internet radios that use WiFi.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Ker-ching!

        So a DAB set that has to have a display screen and decode an entire multiplex then select the station you want to listen to is less power hungry than a normal fm radio?

      2. Spamfast
        FAIL

        Re: Ker-ching!

        My DAB portable radio that has rechargeable C cells that charge in situ. I plug it in every 3 weeks or so.

        I'm impressed, if rather sceptical. Manufacturer and model? How many hours per day? How much for a set of batteries?

        Not too much trouble in a world where people carry power banks to keep their phones working.

        So I need to carry an extra battery pack for my portable radio? That's a step forward.

        Early DAB sets were battery hungry, but the later ones are much better. Far FAR better than IP internet radios that use WiFi.

        Unless & until SoCs & the like get a lot more efficient, any kind of digital receiver will not last as long as an FM one on the same amount of stored energy.

        An FM radio will run for weeks on a couple of cheap AA NiMH rechargeables, which are less environmentally demanding to manufacture than Li-ion. Also, has anyone calculated how much more power will be required when all the FM radios in, say, the UK are replaced with DAB/DAB+ ones and what that means for CO2 emissions and other environmental impacts? (Not forgetting that we have to pay for electricity as well.)

        And I can have the FM radio in the kitchen on and my other half the one in the living room and they are in sync. Like DVB TV receivers, every DAB radio introduces a slightly different decoding delay giving you that lovely echo effect that adds so much fun to the experience.

        DAB is technology looking for an audience. The FM band is not really required for anything else and has enough room for the number of channels that the vast majority of the public wants. The only reason to switch is to provide revenue for governments, manufacturers and politicians.

        1. Vic

          Re: Ker-ching!

          Like DVB TV receivers, every DAB radio introduces a slightly different decoding delay

          DVB-T receivers should *not* have different delays. Each frame (both audio and video) is stamped as to when it should be played; this guarantees both uniform playout and lip-sync.

          Decoders based on some of the early ST chipsets had a nasty hardware bug that meant there could be a small variation in playout time, and a much nastier software bug that meant the lipsync was permanently out. I fixed that whilst at ST, and then at several manufacturers after I'd left...

          Vic.

          1. Spamfast

            Re: Ker-ching!

            DVB-T receivers should *not* have different delays. Each frame (both audio and video) is stamped as to when it should be played; this guarantees both uniform playout and lip-sync. Decoders based on some of the early ST chipsets had a nasty hardware bug that meant there could be a small variation in playout time, and a much nastier software bug that meant the lipsync was permanently out. I fixed that whilst at ST, and then at several manufacturers after I'd left...

            I'm not talking about the audio & video on a single decoder being out of sync.

            Explain to me how the decoder 'knows' when to play a particular video frame and the audio that goes with it? All its timing information comes from the same transport stream it's decoding. It has no external absolute time reference.

            There is an inevitable delay in demodulating all the carriers from the COFDM transmission to get the individual bitstreams, reassembling these into an MPEG transport stream, applying the forward error correction, splitting out the individual elementary streams for the audio and video, buffering these to be synced together, decompressing the audio & video and converting it to the required HDMI bitstream format or the values to write to the DACs for the analog SCART connection.

            The HDMI connection itself introduces a delay which is different from that of the analog path through a SCART connector. For HDMI the TV has to demux the audio and video, buffer it so it can be synced and then sent to the audio DACs and frame buffer. The delay between the analog audio going into the SCART connector and coming out of the speakers is limited by the slew rates of the transistors and the capacitance in the amplifiers but is generally in the sub-microsecond domain - far lower than any current technology digital path.

            Different DSP implementations in different receivers or in different HDMI TVs are going to have different decoding delays. I'm not aware of any specification that says this has to exactly N milliseconds from receiving the signal at the antenna to setting the voltage level of the speaker coil. (If you know better ...)

            Why does home theatre kit often have an adjustable delay between its own amplifier output and that sent to the HDMI output, and sometimes one on the TOSLINK audio input too to compensate for the differences between its digital audio processing delay and the TV's?

            I have three different models of DVB-T receivers in my lounge and bedrooms. Each has a slightly different delay which is extremely irritating on the audio. I have to turn the sound off on all but one if I'm moving from room to room while watching the same channel. And the delays are significant enough to be noticeable on the lip-sync if I'm watching the video from one receiver with the audio from another.

            The same audio effect occurs with different models of DAB radio.

            1. Vic

              Re: Ker-ching!

              Explain to me how the decoder 'knows' when to play a particular video frame and the audio that goes with it?

              All audio and video frames are stamped with a field called PTS - the Presentation Time Stamp. This denotes the point at which the frame is required to be played out.

              All its timing information comes from the same transport stream it's decoding. It has no external absolute time reference.

              The transport stream contains elements called PCR - the Program Clock Reference. This syncs the System Time Clock (STC) on the decoder to the time on the encoder. All compliant decoders will thus be running synchronised STCs, and so will output audio and video frames at the same time.

              There is an inevitable delay in demodulating all the carriers from the COFDM transmission to get the individual bitstreams, reassembling these into an MPEG transport stream, applying the forward error correction, splitting out the individual elementary streams for the audio and video, buffering these to be synced together, decompressing the audio & video and converting it to the required HDMI bitstream format or the values to write to the DACs for the analog SCART connection.

              None of that matters, as this is not an open-loop system; the frames are presented at the time specified in the PTS, not whenever the box feels like it.

              Different DSP implementations in different receivers or in different HDMI TVs are going to have different decoding delays. I'm not aware of any specification that says this has to exactly N milliseconds from receiving the signal at the antenna to setting the voltage level of the speaker coil

              Are you trying to tell me that's a significant delay? You're going to find it hard to measure that, let alone perceive it.

              Why does home theatre kit often have an adjustable delay between its own amplifier output and that sent to the HDMI output, and sometimes one on the TOSLINK audio input too to compensate for the differences between its digital audio processing delay and the TV's?

              That's because, in larger rooms, the speed of sound becomes significant; the difference in path length between the operator and each set of speakers can cause differences in when the sound actually reaches the ears. Adjustable delays allows you to tune that out to some extent.

              I have three different models of DVB-T receivers in my lounge and bedrooms

              They might well be a common chipset and be based on the same reference software - there are not very many chipset vendors, and every STB of which I'm aware is heavily based on the chipset vendor's reference software. Just because they have different boxes doesn't mean they are different units, and at least one chipset really cannot be truly compliant, even if they do adopt my fix for the truly heinous software bug in that ref tree.

              Vic.

              1. Spamfast

                Re: Ker-ching!

                >>>All audio and video frames are stamped with a field called PTS - the Presentation Time Stamp. This denotes the point at which the frame is required to be played out. The transport stream contains elements called PCR - the Program Clock Reference. This syncs the System Time Clock (STC) on the decoder to the time on the encoder. All compliant decoders will thus be running synchronised STCs, and so will output audio and video frames at the same time.

                Yes, I know what's in an MPEG transport stream, thanks. And no it does not sync the STC on the decoder to that of the encoder at the head-end. The STC in the decoder will always lag behind the encoder due to the propagation delays (only really significant for satellite DVB-S) and also the encoding/modulation & demodulation/decoding delays (significant for all DVB).

                The PCRs are there to synchronise elementary streams within a single transport stream on a single set-top box not to some external absolute time reference.

                Absolute time is handled by a UTC value in the TDT but this is not used for determining when to output elementary streams. It's only for clock and EPG display etc.

                >>> None of that matters, as this is not an open-loop system; the frames are presented at the time specified in the PTS, not whenever the box feels like it.

                It is an open loop system. A closed loop system requires feedback. There is no communication from the STB to the head-end. Essentialy all audio, video and timing data flows in one direction, even within the STB. (The STC might well be a digital PLL kept locked to the PCRs but that's purely for reducing AV timing jitter.)

                >>>Are you trying to tell me that's a significant delay? You're going to find it hard to measure that, let alone perceive it.

                I'm telling you exactly that.

                It's hardly surprising. Decompressing compressed audio and video and syncing different streams requires buffering. As does applying FEC. Or combining the sub-channel bitstreams - which is another form of syncing. Or converting to HDMI format or PAL signals. All this buffering introduces a delay.

                This delay will inevitably be different for different implementations. At least 100 milliseconds different in the case of my kit, I would say.

                This is one of the reasons why STBs can take so long to 'change channels'. All those buffers have to be flushed and refilled before the new picture and sound can be output. If the delays were imperceptible then channel changes could appear instantaneous on every STB. On a good STB with a really fast DSP channel changes are fast - on a cheap one they're slow, more evidence that the delay is variable between STB models.

                >>>That's because, in larger rooms, the speed of sound becomes significant; the difference in path length between the operator and each set of speakers can cause differences in when the sound actually reaches the ears.

                Erm - the delay compensation on the digital audio input from the TV isn't for between the front and back speakers on the sound system, it's between the speakers on the TV and the front speakers & woofer on the sound system. Nothing to do with room acoustics - that's a separate function.

                Anyway, sound travels at around 340m/s in air at standard temperature and pressure. The distance between the STB & radio in my living room and the ones in one of the bedrooms is around 15 metres. If I have the analog FM radio in the bedroom on at the same time as the one in the living room the propagation delay of around 50ms is too short to be noticeable by the human ear - I perceive no 'echo effect'.

                They delays between the audio from the DVB STBs in the two rooms is very noticeable and so must be at least 80 milliseconds, probably more like 200 ms from what I can tell.

                Anyway, if I stand in the doorway I can see both screens. The video on one clearly lags behind that on the other. You're not going to claim that's because of the distance difference are you?

                And yes, that's with both on standard def or both on high def. Although you seem to be implying that that shouldn't matter - when in fact it shows an even greater difference with HD on one and SD on the other.

                >>>They [my STBS] might well be a common chipset and be based on the same reference software ...

                You're not supporting your case. If they were using the same chipset & software and they are still out of sync - which they most definitely are - then even the same kit can have different delays!

                Anyway, this is rather off topic for the article in question, so I'll bid you adieu.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A portable FM radio can probably run from low sunlight solar power or clockwork. It seems doubtful that a DAB one would be feasible with those power supplies.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      solar powered FM radio

      Yep, got one sitting on the windowsill for just that eventuality.

      1. jonnyu1

        Re: solar powered FM radio

        Or a Baygen wind-up radio!

        LED lamps are reducing consumption for lighting, along with lithium batteries (OK - they can explode...) they can go Solar, but digital devices gobble up energy.

        Even with lithium batteries in a Smartphone, I'm now carrying a powerbank (i.e. another lithium battery) to rechaege it within a day, when my dumb phone lasts a week...

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      There have been DAB sets that had wind up technology this was one: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Windup-portable-DAB-radio-DEVO/dp/B001CFWFBO You can draw your own conclusions as to whether the missing number of hours for DAB listening off a full charge means anything significant. The FM figure of one hour per one minute of winding is quite impressive though.

  8. Lee D Silver badge

    Easier:

    Ditch AM, FM, DAB and DAB+. And analogue TV (we're still doing NOTHING with those frequencies, right?)

    Allocate the frequencies to 3G/4G/5G.

    Do everything over IP, including streaming audio.

    Anything else is really just putting off the inevitable. Kids don't use the radio features - some phones don't even have it any more. They stream. And if you increase the bandwidth and transmit on all possible frequencies, then you can use them for ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING rather than one purpose for the lifetime of the technology/license.

    Not saying make them public wifi, but make them available for Internet carriers and let them use them for everything else (phones, radio, TV, etc.), all at the same time.

    DAB/DAB+ would be vastly outclassed by the most basic of streams over 3G.

    I've sat in carparks outside football stadiums streaming entire series of TV over 4G.

    And if you blanked the country once in tech to do this, you can basically pay minimal upgrades/maintenance but yet still use it for anything you like.

    "oIP" is being tacked onto everything nowadays. I work IT, and if I had to start a new site, I wouldn't let them run anything but Ethernet, Wifi and GSM and we'd do everything over IP. No analogue phone lines, no TV aerials, no satellite dishes, no burglar alarm lines, none of that nonsense.

    It just bugs me that we all hastily gathered our things at great expense to free up all the TV analogue channels and yet they're still barely being used.

    1. Vic

      Do everything over IP, including streaming audio.

      God, no.

      Unicast does not scale to broadcast levels. Get multicast working everywhere and maybe you could get somewhere. But that's going to require quite a bit of infrastructure change; we're not kitted for ubiquitous multicast.

      DAB/DAB+ would be vastly outclassed by the most basic of streams over 3G.

      That's hardly saying much. But FM outclasses pretty much everything being streamed - with a very much simpler system.

      I've sat in carparks outside football stadiums streaming entire series of TV over 4G.

      And I've sat on a bus with people whinging about lack of signal, flat batteries etc. - while my cheapo FM radio gives me clear audio, running (for months) on a couple of coin cells.

      It just bugs me that we all hastily gathered our things at great expense to free up all the TV analogue channels and yet they're still barely being used.

      The reasons for that were political, not technical.

      Vic.

      1. jonnyu1

        Agreed - the beauty of radio is simplicity and ubiquity.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Not sure it's really worth giving over Radio4 LW spectrum to the internet, unless you are into Morse code.

      But since any radio other than Radio4 LW is unnecessary I don't see what all the fuss is about.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But since any radio other than Radio4 LW is unnecessary

        Living far outside the range of R4 FM or LW I just pick it up via satellite and rebroadcast it around the house on FM. I do wonder if the neighbours have ever noticed.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          But that is just because of traitorous dereliction of duty by the world service

          Now that a post-Brexit Britain will once more bestride the globe like a colossus then hopefully proper radio will be brought back to the empire. If the Chinese and Americans are going to be taught to play cricket then we need R4LW

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Do everything over IP, including streaming audio."

      Are you going to chip in for the cost of data allowance on my phone? Thanks for that.

    4. Dagg

      Ditch AM, FM, DAB and DAB+. And analogue TV (we're still doing NOTHING with those frequencies, right?)

      Allocate the frequencies to 3G/4G/5G.

      Yea, right. During the Black Saturday bush fires in Victoria Australia the 3G/4G/5G was the first communication infrastructure to fail. At least with old style AM you have the geographic coverage from a single transmitter without the requirements for repeaters.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Well you still had smoke signals

    5. tiggity Silver badge

      Try getting any viable 3G or higher signal in vast swathes of the UK - too many not spots for that idea to be viable

    6. Kiwi
      FAIL

      Do everything over IP, including streaming audio.

      And when you get earthaquake/blizzard/electrical storm/flood/bad accident etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc where a significant portion of the phone network is down and what survives is quickly inundated with emergency calls or people making calls to check on family or friends, what then for your IP radio? It's gonna be as dead as the poor people who rely on it for urgent information.

      Whereas AM and FM will just keep plodding on. Where the frequencies 3g and 4g operate at fail to get around obstacles needing many more transmitters per mile, AM/FM will happily go on. Where all sorts of special circuitry is needed to make digital receivers, I could use a lighter, some wire and a few bits from a smashed stereo to make an AM receiver, and though I can't recall the specifics IIRC I've built a crystal set that handled FM as well (it was some 30 years ago so it could've been AM but I am sure that station was FM only).

      DAB may give more stations, but it won't improve the quality of what is available, and when you're relying on up to date information during an emergency, well, you might just find yourself hoping that those who made such things happen are among the perished, while hoping like hell your loved ones can get the information they need to survive.

  9. DerekCurrie
    FAIL

    Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

    Conspiracy Theory!

    The RIAA ad nauseam want the quality of audio broadcasts to DECLINE as an incentive to *buy* their wares. Therefore, nearly all digital radio around the world is utter crap in quality when directly compared with FM radio quality. FM quality wins every time. FM has radio noise while digital radio has *drop*outs*. I choose noise with far better audio quality. I choose FM.

    FM = Full audio bandwidth with no compression (except as found on the source media).

    "HD" (deliberate misnomer) Radio in the USA =

    *Severe*lossy*data*compression* in every instance with lower coverage than FM. Utter, fetid crap. Thankfully it was DOA and has gone nowhere.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_Radio

    More about Norway's digital radio:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countries_using_DAB/DMB#Norway

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

      My bedside Sony CD/TAPE/FM/DAB unit has an interesting quirk. If you select DAB then what sounds like a motor starts running too - very annoying if you have the volume turned low in the middle of the night.

      Select FM and the motor stops.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

        Re. Sony

        Check for available firmware updates. Maybe they've fixed it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

          "Maybe they've fixed it."

          Thanks for the suggestion - have checked but no firmware updates available. Some reviews mention annoying sound of starting and stopping of a cooling fan in DAB mode - maybe that's my motor noise.

          Several reviews mention difficulties with DAB reception not starting until you change to another station then back again. Appears to be a problem across several models that Sony know about. That explains my other Sony system's intermittent DAB problem.

    2. The Electron
      Boffin

      Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

      "FM = Full audio bandwidth with no compression (except as found on the source media)."

      Sorry, that is wrong. The 3dB audio bandwidth of Wide FM transmissions is typically limited from 100Hz to 15kHz, with sharp roll-offs either side; the upper frequency making space for the 19kHz 'stereo' beacon tone. Radio stations also use pre-emphasis to improve the upper audio frequency responses. By using a digital codec, you can potentially offer 20Hz to 20kHz audio - if you use the right one, and have the broadcast bandwidth to carry it.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

        Radio stations also use pre-emphasis to improve the upper audio frequency responses.

        No, they do that to allow corresponding de-emphesis to scale back the FM noise, and given so little audio power is up there, its not a TX load issue.

        Considering how crap many stations on DAB are, and the fact that many of us no longer hear much beyond 15kHz (if that) nor that many loudspeakers ever did it justice when we could, I don't think the extra 1.25dB of bandwidth is significant.

        1. Commswonk Silver badge

          Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

          I don't think the extra 1.25dB of bandwidth is significant.

          That's a first; a "bandwidth ratio" expressed in dB.

          I also hope it's a last as well...

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: @ Commswonk

            That's a first; a "bandwidth ratio" expressed in dB

            That is because human hearing is (more or less) logarithmic both in amplitude response (i.e. perception of loudness) and in frequency.

            That is why music "works" with most instruments: the harmonics that characterise it (that are all ratio related) seem to be equal spacing in a tonal sense, and the note scale and corresponding chords have a set ratio.

            So yes, for audio work specifying relative bandwidth in dB makes perfect sense.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: @ Commswonk

              "That is why music "works" with most instruments: the harmonics that characterise it (that are all ratio related) seem to be equal spacing in a tonal sense, and the note scale and corresponding chords have a set ratio."

              Anyone who combines music and computers/tech quickly learns of the logarithmic nature of music. Going up an octave, for example, doubles the tonal frequency, vice versa, and/or in reverse.

      2. Kiwi
        Trollface

        Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

        By using a digital codec, you can potentially offer 20Hz to 20kHz audio - if you use the right one, and have the broadcast bandwidth to carry it.

        That's kinda like what they said about digital TV. We all know how crappily that worked out...

    3. Fuzz

      Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

      FM = Full audio bandwidth with no compression (except as found on the source media).

      Pretty sure FM is only 30Hz-15KHz

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

        Anyone old enough to be listening to t'wireless is unlikely to hear beyond 15Khz

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

          YAAC noted "...15Khz..."

          kHz. Lowercase k, uppercase H.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

        Also, stereo on FM and analog TV is a delta setup (mono+difference) rather than true dual channel, which causes artifact issues of their own.

        1. Vic

          Re: Considering that most digital radio is utter crap in quality...

          which causes artifact issues of their own.

          No it doesn't. Adding/subtracting analogue singals is trivial, and causes no more noise than the equivalent gain stage.

          Vic.

  10. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    It's very sad...

    It's very sad when one owns a lovely receiver, but they no longer transmit the required signals. A sad and lonely death sentence. Salvage some hardware (screws, washers), maybe a heatsink and a power cord. The rest goes for recycling. Spattered with tears... Sniff.

    At least with FM, one can arrange an FM Modulator to feed signals to your FM receiver. My house has BBC WS on 88.x MHz from a suitable satellite radio. Very convenient.

  11. jonfr

    Denmark to loose FM in 2019

    The plan is to close the FM in Denmark in 2019, currently everything has been moved to DAB+ (making my old DAB radio useless). Denmark largest cable operator YouSee is going to close down its FM signal now in January 2017. It is going to be replaced by a DAB+ signal (and DVB-C for Tv).

    Sweden plan to close its FM broadcast by 2022. I don't know about Finland and in Iceland there are no plans at all to close down the FM signal for any radio station. There is currently no interest in DAB or DAB+ broadcast in Iceland. Currently there is a experimental channel in DAB in Reykjavík, they also broadcast on FM 87,7 at the same time.

    It is going to be interesting, since this means far away FM broadcasts are going to be heard in the correct conditions (known as FMDX). This is also going to make the use of private FM transmitter more easy, even at low power.

  12. The Electron
    Facepalm

    Lose your audience.

    I rarely listen to FM broadcasts in the UK - the content is not to my liking. My favourite "radio" stations, Planet Rock and Absolute 80s, are stuck on Mono on DAB - despite being moved to a shiny new Mux. The spokesdroid at Bauer Media failing to grasp how annoyed the listeners are with low bit-rate and mono! I am forced to stream them - which only works if I have access to the Internet, so no use in the car when I'm driving around the lanes of Bedfordshire/Cambridgeshire as many places struggle to get GSM! I am having to install a FreeSat system at home so I can pick up those stations without all of the drop-outs and hang-ups I see with streaming. If the UK gov. mandates to turn off FM, I think the radio stations will simply lose their audience. For many in the not-spots, the only way to receive will be via Satellite; and like Internet access, only any good if you are standing still!

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Satellite Radio

      USA use Satellite radio like SiriusXM and they have in car receivers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Satellite Radio

        Sirius is rubbish, even when compared to the worst of UK DAB. It drops out when you go under a bridge or a tree, and the programming is like listening to someone else's play list on repeat. Better to have your own MP3 player.

        1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

          Re: Satellite Radio

          "Sirius is rubbish..."

          You forgot to mention another tidbit. It's hundreds of dollars per year. In Canada, over $200 twice a year. Crikey!!

          As far as content, just leave it on BBC WS. Except when they get too graphic or boring, then switch to muzak.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Satellite Radio

            >BBC WS. Except when they get too graphic

            That explains CBC radio - it's BBC WS without the filth ......

  13. Slx

    Very unlikely to happen here in Ireland for one reason - centralised control doesn't exist for FM

    In Ireland we have had an absolutely disastrous DAB rollout where there's just been little or no interest from the commercial providers and its been driven by RTE using public money.

    The issue is quite simple. Commercial broadcasters and even tiny community stations here own their own FM transmission infrastructure and independent local stations have a lot of market share. It's not in their interests to rent space from either the state owned RTE Networks (2RN) or some megacorp that ultimately gets to run a national DAB network.

    Also the local stations do not want the extra competition so won't spend a cent on DAB.

    On top of that music-driven stations are facing huge competition from people switching over to just listening to Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music, YouTube and all sorts of other streaming services. For €10 / month or so you've access to way more music and no annoying ads and DJs.

    You can pre-download more music and audio than you could possibly listen to on most modern smartphones and It is now quite feasible to stream music on 4G (here anyway) - data's cheap and decent 4G is widespread. Even on prepay €20 will give you more data than most people could use if you pick the right networks.

    Then you've got an increasing number of people listening to radio via podcasts and streaming online and DAB uptake is generally pretty poor. I'd guess many people aren't even aware of it.

    If you've a country with more centralised control of broadcasting, perhaps DAB might work better but I can't see cheap, effective and reliable FM systems being switched off here for a VERY long time. Considering we had a public outcry over the suggestion of closing LW 252kHz simulcast of RTE Radio 1 (carried on DAB, FM, online etc) and there were a few people quite upset over closing down RTE Radio's AM Medium Wave services in 2008 after 82 years on the dial.

    Is this the experience in other countries too?

    Is the Norwegian setup very different?

    I know the UK has been doing OK with DAB but mostly because BBC has poured money into it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Very unlikely to happen here in Ireland

      Good thing too. The irish state 2RN has changed the transmission power of the FM broadcasts; so nowadays, in areas of the flatland irish midlands (Westmeath / Offaly) only the commercial Midlands radio 3 is audible indoors without drowning in white noise.

      It used to be the case that our physics teacher had a pet project getting us to make our own FM radio using a crystal earpiece, a length of wire and a triangle of diode, resistor, capacitor, getting it's power just from the transmitter. (signal sounds more tolerable when you make the radio yourself. Was a while before I get a proper radio.)

      No DAB receivers in the house here vs about a dozen FM capable devices. Some of which actually get a signal while walking, unlike DAB. Not CD quality? Don't care.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Very unlikely to happen here in Ireland

        It used to be the case that our physics teacher had a pet project getting us to make our own FM radio using a crystal earpiece, a length of wire and a triangle of diode, resistor, capacitor, getting it's power just from the transmitter. (signal sounds more tolerable when you make the radio yourself.

        With that component count I think you will find that the radio was a common or garden AM crystal set; certainly not FM.

        1. Tac Eht Xilef

          Re: Very unlikely to happen here in Ireland

          Actually, it's perfectly possible to make an FM crystal set.

          Using slope detection - http://solomonsmusic.net/FM_CrystalRadio.html - you can make an average performer. Using a very simple discriminator - http://electronbunker.ca/eb/FMCrystalSet.html - works much better.

    2. Kiwi

      Re: Very unlikely to happen here in Ireland for one reason - centralised control doesn't exist..

      Even on prepay €20 will give you more data than most people could use if you pick the right networks.

      All I can say to that is shutupyabastard!

      ATM here in NZ one of our BigBoxChains is doing 1G for $4, up to 4G in any 31day period. But with most providers you're looking at $20 for a whopping 500Mb of mobile data, though with some you can get a whole Gb! (unless prices have improved since I last checked). When your home is mobile-data only, it doesn't go far!

      Thankfully I have a very large pir er, private music collection built over some years.

      1. Slx

        Re: Very unlikely to happen here in Ireland for one reason - centralised control doesn't exist..

        €30 (which according go Google is NZ$ 45.30) gets me:

        30GB 4G data (which typically runs at about 50-70Mbit/s) [YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pokémon Go are unmetered - so much for net neutrality]

        Unlimited Irish Calls (landline/mobile)

        Unlimited Irish Texts

        50 Mins of international calls (including mobiles) to pretty much anywhere.

        No contract as I own my own handset.

        1. Kiwi
          Alert

          Re: Very unlikely to happen here in Ireland for one reason - centralised control doesn't exist..

          €30 (which according go Google is NZ$ 45.30) gets me:

          A "skite of the month" award? :)

          Don't suppose you'd be up for a life-swap to NZ for a while? (not long, only the lesser of 1) till NZ gets decent mobile data rates or 2) the end of my natural life)

  14. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Not for me either

    I just occasionally listen to FM radio. When that switches off, so do I.

    1. eldakka Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Not for me either

      Have you paid up your funeral expenses?

  15. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Stop

    In other news...

    There was a sudden surge in investment in digital radio equipment providers in the Norwegian parlimentarians retirement fund.

    More seriously, congratulations on saving $28M a year (maybe), but if half the cars and probably most of the portable radios in Norway can't get DAB, why push forward with removing FM? A very large percentage of these people are not going to fork out for new/converted radios and will instead do without FM/DAB programming until they get it in the next car they buy.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: In other news...

      A very large percentage of these people are not going to fork out for new/converted radios and will instead do without FM/DAB programming until they get it in the next car they buy.

      Which will surely delight those programme providers reliant on advertising revenue to operate; a significant collapse in their audience.

  16. s. pam
    Angel

    Wait a minute....

    I thought F.M. stood for Fucking Magic? At least that's what my Basics of Radio professor taught us in Univ in the early 80's....

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spectrum?

    I'm curious to see what happens to that spectrum, who gets to use it.

    1. Mike Banahan

      Re: Spectrum?

      "I'm curious to see what happens to that spectrum, who gets to use it."

      My guess is that it will fill up with pirate radio stations providing content to all the people who can't get DAB and the authorities will be unable to get any other use out of it. .

  18. jonnyu1

    Don't forget the content in the discussion about the technology

    DAB (etc) - as Bruce Springsteen sang about digital television:

    57 channels - and nothing on.

    Radio has been described as the 'Theatre of the Mind', unencumbered with the overhead of visual imagery.

    Personally, I'd like access to intelligent speech (not 'talk' or wall-to wall music - I recognise others may want those) from local to international from a simple (and cheap, low power consumption) device from which it is easy to quickly select a channel, wherever I am - in the house, car, city, country, up a mountain, down a tunnel (I'll pass on underwater - others may differ)

    Digital radio (different technologies in different places) has promised this - far more possible channels than FM, but has, IMO, failed to deliver. We have AM/FM/LW/SW/Digital radio/Digital TV radio/Internet Radio/Satellite radio/Podcasts (other?), so no simple answer.

    Why is this so hard?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Don't forget the content in the discussion about the technology

      "Why is this so hard?"

      Because analog radio is basically the KISS principle. It's all physics: no magic or jiggerypokery. That's why you can listen to radio with just a few parts: just enough to repeat the physics. It's also why it needs so little extra power: the signal IS the power essentially. And since radio has emergency applications, you REALLY need it as simple as possible because some out in the field need to be able to MacGyver their solutions.

      If any government dares to take analogue radio off, dare them to be able to get news of a major disaster through in time during a major blackout.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FM is supreme - the only benefit DAB has is providing solid platform for subliminal stuff along the lines of SSSS. There is no real technical benefit except using it as a subliminal control mechanism.....

    Any time the govt says :"this is a god idea" its usually dumb or ther eis a more sinister thing behind it. Givent he gummint is moving into a full fascist model, my money is on the subliminal stuff.....

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its the perfect platform for subliminal broadcasting. Generally, any time the gummint says "its a good idea", its not for our benefit.

    Research SSSS - Silent Sound Spectrum Spread. Very good for mind control.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      You know SSSS PREDATES DAB? Wasn't SSSS on FM all the talk in the 80's, so in those terms, SSSS is a wash. Besides, modern lossy audio codes are perceptual, so silent subliminals would likely get lost in the codec. That's why Cinavia encodes on the audible spectrum.

  21. Smitty

    DAB is a solution looking for a problem.

    Back in 1997 I went to an engineering and technology fair in Newcastle.

    In among all the exhibitors raving about this new internet thingy was the BBC R&D stand. They had a live DAB demo running.

    The equipment was big, about the size of a suitcase and fitted in the boot of a car. They were using an reception antenna located outside the hall and playing Radio 3 at a high bit rate, so in theory it should have sounded great. But it sounded muffled and the signal kept dropping out, despite the rep telling me that they had ramped up the power of the local test transmission especially for this event.

    I couldn't but help feel it all seemed a bit "early prototypey", Digital phones had been around for over a decade, there were various digital data transmission systems in use and digital DTH satellite broadcasting had been around for a while with reasonably sized receivers. I just came away with a feeling that DAB should have been a bit more advanced at that point in time.

    The rep assured me that when it launched to the public it would be amazing.

    Then I heard nothing more about it until Psion launched their Wavefinder USB DAB radio on 2000. I got one when they reduced the price. To be honest I was underwhelmed with what was on offer. All the drop outs and muffled audio just made me think DAB was rushed to market. Later I learned that the prototype I seen at that fair wasn't actually a prototype at all. The standard has been ratified years earlier.

    And it wasn't just the underling technology that was at fault, a lot of DAB radio are incredibly poorly designed with weird channel selector interfaces. Also, so many of them have cheap crappy speakers, no doubt to offset the cost of the DAB electronics and a need to keep the unit price low.

    I can't help but feel that DAB was a proof of concept idea that somehow got to market.

    Its just a pity that no one seems to want to put it right by obsoleting DAB and replacing it with the much better DAB+.

  22. fattybacon

    Licence to ... annoy

    I ain't got no FM radio in my house, other than the receiver in my phone (LG G4), so it's always great to attempt to listen to the local radio footie commentary at home.

    PC web browser... yes, for the pre-/post-match gibbon-chat, nope for the game, this program isn't licensed on this platform.

    Squeezebox/Logitech server to numerous Squeeze clients dotted around the house... as above.

    Chromecast TV and Chromecast Audio using TuneIn app on phone (nope). As above.

    Chromecast TV and Chromecast Audio using BBC iPlayer Radio on phone (nope, no channel).

    Freesat telly - nope, not re-broadcast there, not Lardaarn enough.

    Freeview... just checked, maybe! Hope at last!! http://www.bbc.co.uk/reception/news/item104

    Balance phone precariously on top of a 2m tall cabinet, connected to amp using headphone jack... and phone's built-in FM app and yes, finally. I can listen to some very crackly FM.

    Or sit outside in the street listening to the car's FM.

    However... when it comes to test match special, the reverse applies to all of the above (car only has FM and MW).

  23. earl grey Silver badge
    Trollface

    "diverse and pluralistic radio content"

    So, someone else's version of shite instead of my normal shite?

    Thanks, but no thanks.

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