"Digital radio" -- does it have to be DAB?


In Sweden there is a discussion going on since years back whether we should deploy DAB or not. It accelerated again this spring and we now see an article in SvD where among others Mats Svegfors, CEO of SR (or SverigesRadio as they want to be called now,…but that is another story) writes about the need for DAB+.

The problem with this discussion is that the only ones that discuss are the people that send radio. Not the one listening. The people sending radio very much like to have their own technology that they can use. Just like TV got a DVB-T network that they can use (which also was somewhat a failure I think).

There are several reasons why separate networks for applications are wrong. Specifically because the networks are for only one service. And, if we look at Radio as a service, is the future really to serve linearly? And how much of the material that is sent is really live anyways? How much is cached and then transmitted? I wrote the other day about Spotify and similar services be the future, and not radio programs.

But lets pretend we want radio channels in the future as well. Is the future to turn off the FM network? Or will a digital network be a complement (or competition) to FM? I claim the only gain we can get (we as in the Swedish Society) with a new network of any kind is if the old analog network is turned off. And what is the cost to turn off FM?

But even if we have this as a goal, why should we build a new network for radio, when we just got a new digital network that was built for TV, but can be (and already is) used for radio as well?

There are many unfortunate things here. First of all, people that want DAB+ claim one can use 20 channels per mux, but in reality (if we look in the UK for example) a better number is max 7 if one want to keep the quality of the sound. The same parties continue to reference the investigation Framtidens Radio that was old already before it was published. It does not even touch on the technologies that uses existing transmission networks for digital radio, such as DVB-T2, H2 or SH.

Is the reason for this that SvT is not cooperating with SR? Is it lobbying from Teracom that of course want to operate two networks and not only one? Specifically as Teracom already has made investments in DAB that they want to get paid for? Without competition on the transmission network, we can not know.