Workshop Explores Italy’s Digital Radio Future
     

Italian radio engineers and broadcast journalists discuss the future of digital radio in Italy at the Elenos headquartersduring the Elenos Open Day.
POGGIO RENATICO, Italy — Will DAB+ be the future technology of radio? This was the focal topic at the “Elenos Open Day” debate, an event, which took place Nov. 22, in collaboration with partner “fm-world.it” and moderated by journalist Nicola Franceschini. A day of constructive dialog between operators of both national and local networks took place at the Elenos offices, and reviewed which devices users of the medium will opt for.

After years of hesitation and delay, it was agreed that Digital Radio is going to debut in Trentino. Despite the delays, operators in the region believe in this future, and were represented by a delegation from Radio Dolomiti. Their consortium brings together eleven stations, which will switch to DAB+ broadcasts in a few weeks. This group will join with national and inter-regional programs offered by the RAI and other private stations. A total of 40 stations will be operating DAB+ in at least half of the province of Trentino.

 Multi-platform medium 

What are the benefits of DAB+? First, better reception, but also the possibility of diversifying the program content, and supporting a product that includes additional elements such as information, traffic news, and other features useful to the listener.

Experiments of DAB and DAB+ have been discussed for years, with little action, so skepticism among the 50+ attendees was evident during the daylong discussions. However, in Trentino, the operation of DAB+ is no longer an experiment, but an actual adoption of the system by stations there. It’s an adoption that will gradually open the door for other regions.

The cynicism expressed can be understood. The initial DAB system required a costly investment, and though the system offered improved coverage, a scarcity of DAB receivers made it impossible to benefit from the improvements offered. As for DAB+, the availability of receivers is a question answered by PURE, a specialized company that certified the availability of digital tuners in Trentino.

The attendees were in agreement as to the features and benefits of this DAB+ rollout. Top on the list was the audio quality and reception — crystal clear sound, combined with a signal free from interference and capable of building penetration, even in urban areas. Diversity of content was also important to the group. This diversity needs to provide something of value to the end user, in order for them to invest in the new receivers.

Technology continues to advance, and digital has become an integral part of our present and future. Since FM reception still has a long life in Italy, why not adopt a digital system, which offers the improvements discussed above? The group also discussed FM radio reception via SmartPhones. The many applications used on SmartPhones might one day make terrestrial FM broadcasting unnecessary, should listening gradually move toward these devices.

The attendees were firm, however, that no option excludes the other, but the power of radio is its versatility. The fact that the medium can become multi-platform with these advances insures that radio’s great past will continue with an important future.

Gianluca Busi is marketing manager for Elenos.


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