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Comments Sought on Digital Expansion

Australia is looking toward the next move for digital radio Down Under

DAB+ has been on the air for more than a year in the five largest metro markets in Australia, and now the government is looking at how to bring digital radio to less populated regions of the coutnry.

Sen. Stephen Conroy, the minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, opened a call for public comments on what technologies should be used to bring digital radio to non-metropolitan areas.

“A key consideration is to determine if Digital Audio Broadcasting Plus (DAB+), the technology used for metropolitan digital radio, is capable of providing the wide area coverage that regional analog radio services, particularly on the AM band, currently offer,” Conroy stated.

In a discussion paper on the topic, the Australian government outlines reasons for considering DAB/DAB+ and DRM30/DRM+ for regional services, as well as noting potential shortcomings of each system within the Australian context. iBiquity Digital’s HD Radio IBOC system and digital satellite radio are also included for consideration.

“Regional areas of Australia are eager to experience the benefits of digital radio and this review will enable residents to advise the Government of their requirements and help determine the most appropriate digital technology for their local radio services,” Conroy stated.

Among the questions the ministry is seeking comment on are what should be the priority for regional radio services — wide area coverage, additional services, improved sound quality; what frequency bands should be used; and are multistandard, hybrid receivers (e.g., DAB+ and DRM30) practical.

Comments are due by 24 December 2010.