Automakers in the U.S. are focusing on the connected
dashboard as a way to lure youth, especially, into buying cars, and HD Radio increasingly
is a part of large-screen enfotainment screens in the dash.
featured, from left, Sebastian Kett of
ARD, Linsday Cornell of the BBC, Steve Tomlinson of IMDA, Ralf Hinz of Daimler
and Carsten Friedrich of Frontier Silicon.
Meanwhile, in Europe, automakers are getting schooled
in the latest updates to DAB digital radio.
Radio U.K. Director Laurence Harrison says in 2013, his country’s government
will announce a switchover date from analog to digital.
“We launched a
conversion working group to make recommendations on how to fully convert all
the vehicles to digital at the point of a switchover,” said Harrison. “This
working group will develop annual conversion targets as well as a viable plan
to meet them, identify the main barriers to conversion, draft and manage a
vehicle conversion risk register, identifying the appropriate mitigations,” he
Harrison spoke at the 14th WorldDMB European
Automotive Workshop in Berlin. The aim was to give car manufacturers an
overview of the state of digital radio and perspectives in each market, to
permit the digital radio industry to network with the car industry and for the
industries jointly to discuss options for new services to air.
The U.K. news was big; this is the first time a European
country with a population of more than 60 million has taken such a step.
Previously Norway had announced it would switch off FM in 2017, and Denmark did
the same, fixing its deadline for 2019. Both Scandinavian countries have a
population of approximately 5 million.
digital radio listening is the largest in Europe, and Harrison shared the
country’s experience with attendees.
who pioneered the digital radio age are highly satisfied with digital radio in
their car and would recommend to others,” he said. “Most of them listen only to
DAB digital radio or listen to it more than to FM/AM radio. Reception and
coverage have improved, and most people with a DAB radio in their car say they
get consistently good reception.”
then directed his discussion toward the car manufacturers: “In-car DAB digital
radios are perceived to increase the value of a vehicle. And half of in-car DAB
digital radio owners in the U.K. said they would be disappointed if digital
radio wasn’t available for their next car,” he said. “Digital radio as a
selling point is a disruptively new point of view.”
German-based car manufacturers had the highest automotive
attendees at the DAB event with registered delegates coming from the VW Group,
Daimler (Mercedes), Ford and Hyundai Motor Europe, headquartered in Germany.
Attendees also came from French manufacturer Renault.
radio broadcasters are seeing many of the major car manufacturers offer
DAB/DAB+ as standard in their newer models sold in Europe, and as an option in
the majority of the rest of their models, in key markets.
Silicon automotive marketing manager Carsten Friedrich focused on digital
aftermarket radios for existing cars: “For almost every car, there is a
reasonable offer already available, and more will come soon. In Germany, they
will need nearly 12 years to replace all existing, non-digital, car radios
merely relying on standard vehicle turnover,” said Friedrich.
must tell consumers that it is possible to integrate new digital radios in
existing cars; the cost and efforts required for such upgrades is reasonable,”
he said, especially when dealing with do-it-yourself adaptors or window
Fuhrmann, chief executive officer of the European Mobile Media Association,
made up of luxury car audio installers, explained that there are still some
issues to overcome for the aftermarket.
antennas and self-fit adaptors with their cables floating on the dashboard
simply don’t fit German consumers,” said Fuhrmann. “They ask for a fully
integrated solution, but just replacing the factory-fitted antenna with a Band
III-capable one would raise the overall cost” up to roughly $800. Even so, he
explained that EMMA was open to promote digital radio but that customers need
to be aware of installation costs.
broadcast is key to radio´s future,” said Mats Åkerlund, chairman of the EBU
New Radio Group. “EBU believes in a future for radio that is digital,
multiplatform and hybrid.” Internet radio, he added, complements broadcast
radio, and does not “supersede it.”
radio” was mentioned frequently during the conference as a key factor in
promoting digital radio in-car. A hybrid radio receiver receives a broadcast signal; the device is also
connected to the Internet and finds the Internet address of the streamed
service corresponding to a tuned station. RadioDNS and the Internet Media
Device Alliance recently collaborated on Hybrid Radio electronic program guide,
a technology for receivers to display metadata for DAB, DRM, HD Radio or
attendees cautioned no matter what technology the receiver uses: consumers “don’t
care about technicalities and standards, they just want it to work” was one of
the event, almost every panelist focused on users: “It’s all about the user
experience. Get the user experience right, and you win,” said Roger Lanctot,
associate director of U.S. consultancy firm Strategy Analytics.
Davide Moro reports on the industry for Radio World from Bergamo, Italy.