With the publishing of guidelines for delineating local DAB+ networks on Apr. 20, 2023, Italian regulators are ready to begin allocating approvals to local network operators. New guidelines detail the criteria and methods to be adopted for assigning DAB+ operator authorization across Italy.
The provisional national plan for the assignment of VHF band III frequencies for DAB+ digital sound broadcasting, or PNAF-DAB, identifies frequencies for three national single-frequency networks; 54 regional networks, 27 of which can be broken into sub-regional “basins;” and 36 local networks with provincial or multi-province coverage. Additional frequency planning involves border regions where international coordination is necessary.
With PNAF-DAB in place, regulators hope to have DAB+ networks assigned for 40% of the population of each operating region or sub-region within two years, 60% within four years, and 70% within five years.
“This is a very important step for a correct development of the digital radio broadcasting in Italy. It enhances the role of local radio broadcasters,” stated Marco Rossignoli, coordinator of Aeranti-Corallo, a trade body representing 414 local radio stations in Italy. “With the assignment of these rights, local radio broadcasters will be able to combine DAB+ digital broadcasting with analog FM and IP transmissions to create a real and complete multiplatform broadcasting system”
Aeranti-Corallo also applauded changes made during the public consultation period to better define the minimum coverage percentages for DAB+ networks based on geographic areas, not purely population, which would have been challenging in less populated areas.
Rossignoli noted that with the allocation of local DAB+ networks, local radio broadcasters will be able to transition from limited trial broadcasts to full operations that achieve coverage similar to their analog FM broadcasts.