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DAB+ Is Gaining Ground in Ghana, Indonesia and Bahrain

A bill to implement DAB+/DRM in Indonesia is before its parliament

DAB+ may be best known for its widespread adoption in Europe, but this digital radio standard is also taking hold in other parts of the world.

The progress of DAB+ implementations in Ghana, Indonesia and Bahrain as covered at the WorldDAB Summit 2023 this week. The session “Global growth of DAB+ led by emerging territories” was part of the one-day in-person/online event, hosted at the Design Offices München Atlas in Munich, Germany.

DAB+ in Ghana was described by Christiana L. Attrams, assistant manager of the National Communications Authority’s Engineering Division. The NCA is conducting DAB+ trial broadcasts in the cities of Accra (11 FM stations being simulcast) and Kamasi (seven FM stations being simulcast), using VHF Band III.

“The cardinal reason for the DAB trial was to test digital sound broadcasting technology to address the increasing demand for FM radio broadcasting authorizations, in view of the severe constraints on the FM band in the major cities of Ghana,” said Attrams. “DAB is expected to provide a sustainable mechanism to meet the incessant demand for sound broadcasting authorization whilst supporting the digitalization agenda of the Republic of Ghana.”

At present, Attrams said the NCA is conducting field measurements of the signal strength, signal quality and coverage of the DAB services in Accra and Kumasi. It is promoting the DAB service through outdoor advertising, social media engagement, print and electronic media advertising.  

[Related: “New WorldDAB President Plants Her Flag at 2023 Summit“]

“The key challenge for the DAB trial in Ghana is the non-availability of receivers in the market,” Attrams said. “The NCA procured a limited number of DAB receivers for some stakeholders as part of the trial, but this is woefully inadequate considering the radio national population in Accra and Kumasi. The NCA has engaged car dealers and electronic equipment dealers to sensitize them about the minimum requirements for DAB receivers. We are expecting DAB receivers to be available in consumer electronic shops by the end of the year to address this challenge.”

Ignatius Hendrasmo speaking at the WorldDAB Summit.

Ignatius Hendrasmo, president director of Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI), spoke next about DAB+ in that country. According to worlddab.org, DAB+ adoption in Indonesia was confirmed in August 2023 in VHF Band III, for use by RRI. The Indonesian government also plans to offer Digital Radio Mondiale in this band.

Indonesia is a country of 273 million people that is located on the “Ring of Fire” chain of tectonic plates and volcanoes. As a result, “we are prone to disasters,” said Hendrasmo. “That’s why we need to adopt the DRM system with the hope that we can get our early warning system onto it.”

The bill to implement DAB+/DRM in Indonesia is before the Indonesian parliament, with enactment expected next year.

Bahrain formally launched DAB+ services on Aug. 31. At present, 10 DAB+ stations are on air in the country. The data rates being broadcast have been set at “128 kilobit per second for each service,” said Abdulla Ahmed Al Balooshi, assistant undersecretary of technical affairs with the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Ministry of Information. Each of these stations has a “95 percent location coverage probability at a 56 dB microvolt parameter.”

Bahrain’s decision to implement DAB+ comes after field tests with transmitter manufacturer Rohde & Schwarz that served about 40 percent of the country. The DAB+ trial started on Dec. 15, 2016, using a 300-watt DAB+ transmitter and broadcasting four programs.

To motivate more private broadcasters to simulcast on the kingdom’s DAB+ band, “Bahrain is willing to offer a free two-year trial period to introduce their respective FM channel program parallel to that DAB+ platform,” said Al Balooshi. His government has “already initiated the process to work with automotive importers regarding a requirement to have DAB+ including all vehicles imported in the kingdom.”

Toyota and Range Rover are working on adding DAB+ to their Bahrain-bound vehicles in 2024, while BMW is already importing vehicles in Bahrain with pre-installed DAB+ radios.

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