The 2015 Broadcast Engineering Society (India) conference and exhibition happened in January�and in the wake of the event, it seems appropriate to review the progress of Digital Radio Mondiale in India and with All India Radio in particular. �
According to DRM News, DRM demonstrated its strategic importance in the BES Expo 2015. In addition to a tutorial on Emergency Warning Features, out of eight sessions in the conference, practically two full sessions were devoted to DRM technology, features, transmitters, chips and receivers.
The article goes on to say: ��The Prime Minister has been talking to everyone every month through the radio program �Mann ki Baat� (Talk from the Heart). �This has contributed to the revival of radio listening in general and AIR in particular. Over half of the population of the country can only access radio on medium wave, which being mainly analog suffers from poor audio quality. There is also a growing need for a professional traffic information system, as experienced in more advanced countries. �India has faced a number of natural calamities in the recent past and at present there is no fool-proof warning system in place. �DRM can address both these requirements. �
It is in this context that the presentations on the Revitalization of Radio (by the DRM Consortium Chair), the DRM integration in transmitters and the DRM+ option for FM made by leading transmitter manufacturers, the presentations on chips, desk top and automobile DRM radio receivers, and the challenges and opportunities for DRM radio receiver manufacturers in India, were made by Indian and foreign specialists. �They were well-received and were followed by questions and debate. �
The topics were most appropriate as AIR has already invested over 2 billion Indian rupees in the digitization of some of its medium wave and shortwave transmitters using DRM. �
The BES sessions enabled discussions on how to maximize the potential of the DRM transmitters through these features and benefits.�
Some other key points came to light at the BES conference:
� The first ever �made-in-India portable DRM receiver, and a multisystem digital car radio also featuring an emergency warning feature, were demonstrated for three days at the BES EXPO.
� As of last year, two 1000 kW and six 20 kW MW and two SW DRM transmitters had been installed by AIR. �Additionally 27 MW DRM transmitters of 100, 200 and 300 kW power have been procured; three of these are now operational at Delhi, Pune and Panaji. Another seven are expected to be ready for operation by March 2015 and all those remaining by June 2015. �With of all these transmitters on-the-air, over 50% of the population of India is expected to have access to DRM signals.
� FM coverage of AIR is about 43% and that of private FM is about 20%, most of which overlaps with AIR�s coverage. �With the planned FM expansion, coverage from private FM transmitters is likely to increase to 50%, so about 50% of the population will still depend on MW reception which has nearly 100% population coverage.
The article finishes by saying: �Using DRM on MW, AIR gets not only as good a quality as on FM, but also additional audio and value-added text services, traffic information systems and disaster warning features, and with considerable energy savings. �Certainly, analog FM is a very successful standard but in truth it has reached its spectrum, coverage and improvement limits.�