More and more countries in Europe rely on DAB Plus and start rolling out new digital programs. Where the digital radio standard is already established, the variety of programs has increased significantly in recent months.
For the listeners, this means: more variety and clear, digital reception. In some countries, the proportion of digital hearing compared to analogue reception is already so high that they are planning to switch completely to DAB Plus. As is well known, Norway switched off the nationwide analog network in 2018.
Radio broadcasts via DAB and / or DAB Plus are already available in 30 European countries. The digital radio programs are combined in so-called multiplexes (Mux). These are program bouquets that combine up to 16 offers on one frequency and are therefore energy and resource-saving in comparison to FM broadcasting. Here is an overview of the activities outside Germany (from A to L):
More than 95 percent of the population can now receive radio programs via DAB Plus.
After regular operation in Flanders, DAB Plus has now also been introduced in the Walloon part of Belgium. Programs from the public broadcaster RTBF, the German-speaking Belgian broadcaster (BRF) and private radio broadcast via this channel. RTBF also offers exclusive programs that are not available on VHF, including special channels on certain occasions, such as an information channel on the corona epidemic.
The Flemish government has decided to switch off FM two years after 50 percent of radio use is digital. In Flanders there is a mux of VRT with twelve programs and two private radio muxes with 20 private radios. In addition to its main program, the private broadcaster Joe is now also broadcasting five of its seven Internet radio branches in parallel on DAB Plus.
On March 20, tests started by operator Digital Audio Bulgaria Ltd. in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. In November 2019, the company received a license from the Bulgarian media commission for a temporary test operation. A multiplex with 14 private radio programs is broadcast.
98 percent of the population can receive DAB Plus. Almost 45 percent of Danish households have at least one digital radio. There is one national multiplex each for the public Danmarks radio and private radios as well as 13 local muxe.
Danmarks Radio also uses a Norddeutscher Rundfunk broadcasting system in Flensburg to close gaps in coverage on the Danish side and to serve the Danish minority in Schleswig-Holstein.
The current media agreement of the Danish parliament provides that FM broadcasting will cease as soon as the share of digital radio reception reaches 50 percent. The rate is currently 28 percent.
After DAB Plus has already started in the metropolitan areas of Paris, Marseille, Nice, Lille, Lyon and Strasbourg, more than 15 additional regions are to be developed by 2021. The media agency CSA has presented a plan for the rollout by 2023. By then, DAB Plus should be available almost everywhere. Although the schedule has been postponed slightly due to the Corona pandemic, further regional multiplexes are planned for 2020, including additional ones in Paris, Nice and Marseille as well as new ones in Bordeaux, Toulouse and Arcachon.
In addition to the regional network coverage, the CSA has issued licenses for two national multiplexes. They should cover metropolitan areas and highways with 26 programs from mid-2021. Together with other broadcasters, the large French private radio groups M6 (RTL, Fun Radio, RTL2), Lagardère (Europe 1, Virgin Radio, RFM) and NextRadioTV (RMC, BFM Radio, BFM Business) want to participate with their programs. The state radio France is also involved with the national programs.
In the British overseas territory, Gibraltar’s public radio operates a multiplex with three programs. Since early October 2018, “The Rock” is the first private radio to be heard on DAB Plus in this multiplex.
The first multiplexes in test operation have started in Greece. A bouquet with a total of 13 programs of the state broadcaster ERA can be heard in large parts of the country. In addition, various test multiplexes with private radios via DAB Plus are in operation.
There is a DAB Plus radio in over 60 percent of British households. The network coverage reaches around 97 percent of the population. In the third quarter of 2019, more than 56.8 percent of the British were using radio via digital distribution channels: an occasion for the government to soon discuss the timing of an FM exit.
The UK Media Department has also started regular operation consultations with Small Scale DAB Plus, which are smaller ensembles with low transmission power. Great Britain wants to enable the launch of many more commercial and non-commercial local radio stations. More than 500 radio stations can already be heard on the island via DAB and DAB Plus. No other country offers such a diverse range of digital radio. More and more organizers are participating in DAB Plus. With LBC News, Absolute 10 and Magic Musicals, further national private radio stations started on digital terrestrial radio in 2019.
Coverage currently reaches 56 percent of the population in the metropolitan areas, 17 percent have a DAB Plus radio. Contrary to original announcements, the multiplex of the public broadcaster RTÉ is still on the air. Private radios are also showing interest after several attempts with Small Scale DAB have been successfully completed.
DAB Plus is widely used in Italy. 83 percent of the population can already receive digital radio, in the past few weeks the network expansion with 55 other transmitters has continued despite the Covid 19 pandemic. Other local multiplexes, among others in Puglia, went into operation.
There is full supply in South Tyrol. Here the public service broadcaster South Tyrol (RAS) has started to switch off FM transmitters in favor of DAB Plus for cost reasons and is also planning further digital-terrestrial network expansion. The South Tyrolean private radios can now also be heard digitally almost everywhere, in addition to German and other international stations.
Since the beginning of 2020, all new cars in Italy have been supplied with DAB Plus as standard. Around 200 programs can be heard on DAB Plus throughout Italy. New regional multiplexes are constantly being added.
Large parts of the country are currently being tested by a national multiplex with twelve radio programs. Croatian public broadcaster HRT has been involved in three programs since early 2020.
In the small principality three multiplexes from German-Switzerland are spread. The public broadcaster Liechtenstein L broadcasts Radio L. in the regional bouquet for Eastern Switzerland.
In Luxembourg there were test broadcasts via DAB Plus in 2019. The RTL technology subsidiary Broadcast Center Europe (BCE) now wants to rent the operational broadcasting systems in Dudelange and Hosingen to interested parties from abroad. However, there are currently no plans for domestic multiplexes.
Source: Digitalradio Büro Deutschland