TEL AVIV, Israel
On June 4 the Ministry of Communications announced the tender for a DAB+ system in Israel.
This announcement ends the intense three-year preparation phase that followed a government decision to introduce digital radio and TV services.
The current spectrum congestion and the relatively small size of the country prevent the addition of any more radio networks, so the decision for a new multichannel digital radio service was the only solution.
The tender is for a countrywide license, based on the build-operate-transfer (BOT) principle.
In the first stage, the DAB+ system will accommodate 36 channels at 48 or 64 kbps each, and then 54 channels in the second stage.
The main desire is to have a single frequency network (SFN), but a plan based on a combined single/multifrequency network design will also undergo consideration. The franchise period is 14 years.
Aware of the commercial uncertainty and the complexity in justifying a reasonable return on investment, the government, on the one hand, mandates a substantial discount to potential broadcasters on the proposed transfer cost, which will gradually decrease in each of the following four years after the system becomes operational.
On the other hand, and to encourage potential bidders to take the risk, the government proposes a grant of up to 23 million new Israeli shekels. The decision on the winning bidder will also take into account the amount asked from the government as a grant.
For the main technical requirements, the tender specifies an urban indoor reception level of 66 dB (uV/M), with protection level 3 according to the PRC2006 guidelines, 60 dB (uV/M) on the highways and 40dB (uV/M) in rural outdoor areas.
The system should be operational 12 months after award, with proven 80 percent coverage of urban areas with over 20,000 inhabitants, 80 percent of rural places and 80 percent of the highways.
Six months later, the coverage should reach 90 percent, 85 percent and 90 percent respectively, then rising to 98 percent, 90 percent and 95 percent after 23 months.
The general planning guidelines specify three types of sites: main sites with transmission powers of more than 500 W, 10-dBi antennas and towers higher than 60 meters; medium-sized sites with 100 to 500 W transmitters, 6- to 8-dBi antenna systems and 30-meter towers; smaller, gap-filler sites with sub-100 W transmitters, 3-dBi antenna systems and 10- to 15-meter towers.
All the systems should have redundancy, with 99.9 percent availability. This also applies to the system headend and to all of the distribution network.
The franchisee selected will also be responsible for the monitoring of the entire area covered, ensuring full compliance according to ITU recommendations.
The prerequisites limit those allowed to bid to financially stable entities with proven experience, and also without cross-ownerships or conflict of interest with existing electronic media. It is likely that the authorities will also allow additional DMB services.
TEL AVIV, Israel