UniWave DRM Radio Expected This Summer

India and Russia Are Recent Additions to the Digital Radio Mondiale Camp
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From a DRM presentation Look for the first consumer receiver that Digital Radio Mondiale proponents hope will be a commercial success to be available in July.

That's the word from the DRM Consortium, which offered a presentation in its "theater" in the Continental booth at the spring NAB Show.

DRM is a digital radio system for short-, medium- and long-wave. The system is designed for digital transmission of voice and associated data services at frequencies below 30 MHz.

Though DRM has had a software receiver and professional-grade units, Michel Penneroux, head of AM Broadcast for the TDF Group and chairman of the DRM Commercial Committee, said it has not had success in introducing a tabletop, though several companies have tried.

The Di-Wave 100 receiver from UniWave Development SAS (uniwave.fr/?lang=en) in France will enter mass production in July, he said.

Features include program information in the display, USB connection, MP3 playback, MPEG4 playback and a multi-language graphic user interface.

He expects other receivers to come on the market from NewStar, ADI, NXP, Himalaya and Mirics.

Other big news for DRM is the decision by Russia and India to adopt the technology.

Given the combined population of the two countries, these decisions should give manufacturers an impetus to speed the development and introduction of affordable DRM receivers, or so proponents hope. The countries have combined population of nearly 1.3 billion.

Indian state broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) announced its decision earlier this year following a series of DRM trials beginning in 2007. The technology also was highlighted in a dedicated session at an international broadcasting conference in Delhi in late February.

AIR currently airs regular DRM transmissions from a 250 kW shortwave transmitter near New Delhi, and it is in the process of converting four other shortwave transmitters to DRM. The broadcaster also plans to add 78 medium-wave transmitters operating in DRM to its national network over the next five years.

In Russia, the State Commission for Radio Frequencies has issued an order opening multiple short- and medium-wave frequencies up to DRM broadcasts. Russia began testing the system in April 2006.

Ruxandra Obreja, who chairs the DRM Consortium and is controller of business development for the BBC World Service, said she was excited and encouraged by the developments in India and Russia. DRM implementation on their large broadcasting networks will give radio a new and exciting "digital" lease of life, she said.

Brazil is also interested in DRM and Germany is now testing the technology, according to DRM experts who spoke at the NAB convention.

Lindsay Cornell, principal systems architect for the BBC, also discussed DRM+, an expansion of DRM technology that brings its features to the FM bands.

Using DRM, proponents hope to provide advantages over FM analog such as using a lower transmission power level to provide the same amount of coverage, provide new audio possibilities such as surround sound and increased spectrum efficiency, he said.

DRM+ is expected to join the family of open worldwide DRM standards later this year, according to the DRM Consortium.

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