Canberra to begin digital radio trial in July | radioinfo

Canberra to begin digital radio trial in July

Wednesday 05 May, 2010
Black Mountain Tower in Canberra

A regional trial of DAB+ digital radio will begin in Canberra during July. While the five largest Australian capital cities have had digital radio since August last year, other capitals, such as Darwin, Hobart and Canberra have not yet experienced digital radio. The staged roll out plan for the new technology in such a large continent as Australia is complex, with spectrum availability and the cost of transmission in smaller markets being two key issues which the industry has to grapple with. Lessons learnt in Canberra will help the industry further expand digital radio services across the country.

The number of commercial and SBS radio stations available to listeners in Canberra will increase as a result of the trial, allowing residents, public servants and politicians in the nation’s capital to listen to existing stations in digital and also experience digital radio’s significantly improved functionality which includes more audio services, text and graphics on screen, plus pause and rewind on some receivers.

 

 Stations that will be available on the DAB+ digital radio trial transmission:

  • 2CA - Capital Radio Network
  • 2CC –Capital Radio Network
  • Capital Radio Network - 2 additional commercial services to be announced

 

  • Mix 106.3 FM -  Canberra FM (Austereo/ARN)
  • 104.7 fm - Canberra FM (Austereo/ARN)
  • Canberra FM (Austereo/ARN) - 2 additional commercial radio services to be announced

 

  • SBS Radio 1 – News & Information Network
  • SBS Radio 2 - News & Information Network
  • SBS Pop Asia
  • SBS Chill

 

Commercial Radio Australia chief executive Joan Warner says the first regional trial of DAB+ is the next step in making digital radio services available to all Australians:

“The radio industry is committed to ensuring all Australians are able to access free to air radio broadcasting via digital technology.  People living in regional Australia must have the same rights of access to digital radio as do those living in the five big cities. We do not want to see a nation of metropolitan digital 'haves' and regional digital 'have nots'.

 “The Canberra trial will provide valuable first hand experience for regional radio broadcasters in working with the DAB+ signal and increased functionality, while we continue to work to get the Federal Government to commit to allocating spectrum so that regional Australians will have the same right to digital radio as Australians living in metropolitan areas.  The trial will also allow us to test how to ensure a signal can be received in a building such as Parliament House, a structure with both man-made and natural barriers.”

 

SBS and commercial radio broadcasters, Capital Radio, ARN and Austereo will jointly fund the trial that will transmit from the Broadcast Australia’s transmission tower on Black Mountain.  Although the signal will be at relatively low power for the trial, it is still expected to cover a large part of the Canberra area thanks to the high central location of Black Mountain.

The second phase of the Canberra trial will be a retransmission of the trial signal into Parliament House to allow Federal politicians to experience digital radio first hand.

SBS Managing Director Shaun Brown is pleased “to be part of such an important trial and to showcase the additional in-language services available on digital radio to SBS’s Canberra listeners.”

ABC Radio is not taking part in the trial at this time because of budget pressures (see other story).


Supporters of the regional trial include broadcast transmission infrastructure company Broadcast Australia, and multiplex infrastructure providers and systems integrators UGL Infrastructure/Radioscape as well as digital radio receiver manufacturers who are all keen to fast track the roll out of digital radio into regional Australia.

Permanent full power digital radio services began last year in five capital cities and the industry recently released figures indicating there are already nearly 500,000 people listening to digital radio.

 

Warner believes coverage in cars and the expansion across the whole continent are the next priorities for the growth of digital radio:

"In 2009, Nielsen research showed 32% of commercial radio listening occurs in the car.  In order to ensure rapid integration of digital radio into cars, the automotive industry needs a clear signal from the Federal Government that DAB+ digital radio will roll out across the country.  The ability to advertise and promote the sale of digital radios in all markets is also important to ensure the ongoing support of the retail sector.”

 

All sectors of the radio industry have made detailed submissions to the Federal Government’s Digital Dividend Green Paper requesting the allocation of vacated VHF Band III spectrum for digital radio as analogue TV switches off and that this allocation take precedence over the reallocation or sale of this spectrum for new services such as wireless internet or mobile telephony.

 

Another trial is in the planning stages for Darwin and two other areas currently being considered are Townsville and Hobart.

 

 

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