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DAB+ Gains Foothold in French Caribbean

Martinique launches the first DAB+ multiplex in one of France's overseas departments

i-Médias Group Director General Jean-Marc De Creny kicks off the Jan. 23 DAB+ launch event in Martinique. (Photo Courtesy i-Médias Group)

French communications regulator Autorité de Régulation de la Communication Audiovisuelle et Numérique (ARCOM) has authorized the first DAB+ multiplex in Martinique. A ten-station multiplex launched on Channel 5B from three sites on the Caribbean island and is authorized to operate as a trial service through the end of September 2023.

As part of the agency’s 2022–2024 roadmap for digital radio, ARCOM called for interest in launching trial DAB+ services in the “Outre-Mer,” those portions France outside of the Europe. Several islands in the Caribbean, North Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean, as well as French Guiana in South America, are regions, collectivities, or territories of France, and broadcasting in these areas is overseen by ARCOM.

An event at Casino Bateliere Plazza in Schœlcher on Jan. 23 highlighted the new service, which launched with nine channels, including five stations from i-Médias Group’s Radio Fusion, including four new specialty channels. Also on the multiplex are Maknet Jazz, Mixx FM, Radio Évangile, and Radio Identité.

[Read more of Radio World’s coverage of DAB+ here]

Radio Fusion explained to listeners its decision to trial DAB+ “Because we already listen to digital radio: on our computer or our smartphone via websites or apps. With DAB, we can now also listen to it over the air!” The station noted that with 34 stations operating on the island, the FM band is saturated, but DAB will allow for new stations and services.

According to Radio Fusion, the DAB+ pilot is the result of two years of cooperation between Martinique broadcasters and Swiss broadcast consultancy Sumatronic AG. The partnership with Sumatronic is through the company’s DAB4all initiative, which is designed to help establish DAB+ broadcasting in markets where the population has few existing DAB receivers.

Since 2021, new cars sold in Martinique have been required to include DAB+ receivers.

Martinique is the first Caribbean island to launch DAB+ services, but other digital radio standards are also used or considered in the region. Broadcasters in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are broadcasting digitally with Xperi’s HD Radio standard, and last year, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union joined the DRM Consortium as an international associate member.

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