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Belgian German Speaking Community Tests DAB+

Four stations are participating in the trials

EUPEN, Belgium — Belgian German language public broadcaster Belgischer Rundfunk began testing DAB+ on Dec. 9.

Pending the government’s timetable to rollout DAB+ for the east Belgian German speaking community, BRF initiated the test-period to simulate DAB+ broadcasts.

Block 8A (the ensemble for East Belgium) serves as a broadcast platform for BRF 1, BRF 2 and commercial stations Radio 700, DasHitradio 100.5 and Radio Contact Ostbelgien.

“The multiplexer consists of Linux-based software, supplied by the Landeszentrale für Medien und Kommunikation Rheinland-Pfalz, the Rhineland-Palatinate Media Institute,” said Lothar Kirch, head of Production and Technic at BRF.

“The MUX, using ODR-mmbTools open-source components, was developed by LMK, the Kaiserslautern university college and the Technical University Kaiserslautern.

The encoder is built on open-standard server hardware and the program feeds are routed to the MUX via streaming,” he explained.

For the trials, the BRF is using a 300 W Syes DAB+/DVBT transmitter, which beams the signal to Eupen, covering a 10 km radius and an Aldena Band III antenna, located on the roof of the BRF studios in Eupen.

André Goebels, station director of Radio Contact Ostbelgien, applauded the DAB+ test broadcasts but still questions the impact DAB+ may have in East Belgium. “The main problem is the minimal penetration of DAB+ receivers in the area. From topographical point of view, DAB+ may not be the best solution — 100 percent coverage of the region is likely to become quite expensive,” he said.

“The trial broadcasts will be finalized in February, and the forthcoming results on signal reception will allow us to compare coverage,” added Kirch. “For now, the [Belgian German community] government has not issued a calendar for the rollout of DAB+ here.”