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Seven Nations Coordinate DAB Coverage

With agreement in place, Austria and Croatia move to advertise multiplex licenses

Participants from the seven nations’ broadcast regulators at the signing of the frequency coordination agreement in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo Courtesy RATEL)

In mid-June, media regulators and frequency planning bodies for seven nations in Central and Southeastern Europe signed an agreement on the use of DAB+ frequencies. With the agreement in place, regulators in the nations can begin tendering licenses for new or additional digital radio multiplexes.

The working agreement among Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovinian, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia was signed at the working group’s final meeting on June 12–13 in Budapest, Hungary. Hungarian media regulator Nemzeti Média- és Hírközlési Hatóság (NMHH) hosted the meeting.

The mutual framework coordination agreement covers transmissions in VHF band III from 174 to 230 MHz and was accompanies by bilateral agreements among the nations harmonizing technical and geographic parameters for radio frequency allocation. In particular, the regulators agreeing on technical reference parameters for future terrestrial DAB+ transmission systems to limit mutual interference from crossborder transmissions, according to Austrian communications regulator KommAustria.

The coordination process began in October 2019 in Vienna, Austria, with eight subsequent meetings being held online due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The working group aimed to find common solutions for replanning and improving the existing ITU GE06 Plan for equal access to spectrum and efficient spectrum use, according to a statement by Serbian media regulator Regulatorno Telo za Elektronske Komunikacije i Poštanske Usluge (RATEL).

The other regulators participating in the coordination process were Regulatorna agencija za komunikacije (RAK) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hrvatska Regulatorna Agencija za Mrežne Djelatnosti (HAKOM) from Croatia, Autoritatea Naţională pentru Administrare şi Reglementare în Comunicaţii (ANCOM) from Romania, and Agencija za Komunikacijska Omrežja in Storitve (AKOS) from Slovenia.

With the agreement in place, authorities in Austrian and Croatia moved quickly to advertise tenders for new national and regional DAB+ multiplexes. Similarly, Serbia announced plans to add additional DAB+ transmitters to extend coverage to about 90% of the country’s population.

In Austria, the tender is for a new national multiplex that could be reorganized into several regional multiplexes each of which could support up to 15 radio programs. In the announcement, KommAustria left open the option of tendering a fourth national multiplex that would have a “must carry” requirement to include space for stations from public-service broadcaster Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF).

Croatia is seeking bids for 20-year licenses to operate one national and four regional multiplexes.

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