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Aussies Bring Digital Radio to Federal Government

Commercial, public-service broadcasters combine for DAB+ trial in Canberra starting in July.

In early July, DAB+ will expand into the Australian Capital Territory.

A joint effort by Commercial Radio Australia (CRA), which represents private broadcasters across the country, and multicultural, multilingual public-service broadcaster SBS will bring a regional trial to Canberra, the Australian capital, to demonstrate to federal authorities the value of digital radio.

Currently, commercial and public-service broadcasters are on the air with DAB+ in the five largest Australian metro areas — Sydney, New South Wales; Melbourne, Victoria; Brisbane, Queensland; Perth, Western Australia; and Adelaide, South Australia. Additional trials are in the planning stages for Darwin, Northern Territory, and the consideration phase for Townsville, Queensland, and Hobart, Tasmania.

Since the launch of DAB+ services in Australia last July, nearly 500,000 people have become digital radio listeners in the five big metro regions.

“The Canberra trial will provide valuable firsthand experience for regional radio broadcasters in working with the DAB+ signal and increased functionality, while we continue to work to get the federal government to commit to allocating spectrum so that regional Australians will have the same right to digital radio as Australians living in metropolitan areas,” said CRA CEO Joan Warner. “The trial will also allow us to test how to ensure a signal can be received in a building such as Parliament House, a structure with both man-made and natural barriers.”

Capital Radio, ARN, Austereo and SBS will fund the low-power transmissions from the Broadcast Australia transmission tower on Black Mountain. A second phase of the trail will retransmit the trial signal into Parliament House to give Federal politicians a first-hand “look” at digital radio.

DAB+ is based on the Eureka-147 DAB standard, but uses the more efficient MPEG-4 HE-AAC v2 coding algorithm along with support for MPEG Surround and more robust error correction. It is currently being rolled out in Italy, Malta and Switzerland, as well as Australia, and is being tested in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Malaysia, Poland, and Sweden.