Australian radio broadcasters recently switched on the first test transmissions of digital radio using DAB+ in Sydney, New South Wales.
The digital radio test is carrying a mix of talk and music, including pop and jazz, to allow the industry to test the sound quality of a variety of content at various bit rates.
“This is a technical field test that will ascertain coverage area and system performance and how well DAB+ can be used to broadcast multiple channels of audio and data, in preparation for commercial rollout,” stated Joan Warner, head of Commercial Radio Australia.
“The test will send a very strong signal to the major radio receiver manufacturers that Australia is committed to launching digital radio using DAB+ and we will need a broad range of DAB+ digital radios in the market in time for our launch.”
A demonstration DAB+ receiver has been developed for the test, as DAB+ receivers are not yet commercially available. A number of manufacturers have indicated they will have DAB+ products ready for overseas retail sale before Christmas.
In Australia, digital radio services will officially launch in January 2009 in the six capital cities.
The DAB+ test is being coordinated by Commercial Radio Australia on behalf of commercial radio stations and public broadcasters, the ABC and SBS. The test will use upgraded multiplexers from Factum and RadioScape.
Australia has also joined a new DAB+ taskforce set up by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union. Warner has been appointed chair of the task force, which will focus on encouraging the adoption of DAB+ within the region and the development of a range of low-cost DAB+ receivers.
Also represented on the taskforce are Brunei, Singapore and New Zealand. The taskforce plans to survey of regional broadcasters to ascertain their plans for digital radio, as well as to encourage nations to adopt DAB+.