Friday, January 13, 2017

In spite of opposition Norway intends to shut down FM in favor of digital radio this year

In spite of the fact that a survey showed that 66 percent of Norwegians oppose the move while only 17 percent favor it, the Norwegian parliament has given the go-ahead to switch off the FM radio network in favor of digital audio broadcasting (DAB).

The parliament is swayed by the fact that DAB allows more channels. However, there are two million cars in Norway that do not have DAB receivers. The cost for a good adapter for the FM radio is about $235 Canadian. Many home radios will also be unable to receive the signal although digital TVs will. Critics claim that the move is just too early. Norwegians are not prepared for it and will resent the extra expense and inconvenience it will cause them.
Norway is not the only country considering such a switch with Switzerland planning a switchover by 2020, and the UK and Denmark also looking at a switch. If the Norwegian change goes smoothly, these countries may move more quickly.
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The shutdown is scheduled to begin in Bodo on January 11. By the end of 2017 it is planned to close all national FM broadcasts in favor of DBA. DBA is said to have less hiss and clearer sound than FM. DBA is described by Wikipedia as follows:In digital broadcasting systems, the analog audio signal is digitized, compressed using formats such as MP2, and transmitted using a digital modulation scheme. The aim is to increase the number of radio programs in a given spectrum, to improve the audio quality, to eliminate fading problems in mobile environments, to allow additional datacasting services, and to decrease the transmission power or the number of transmitters required to cover a region. However, analog radio (AM and FM) is still more popular and listening to radio over IP (Internet Protocol) is growing in popularity.
There are several other digital wireless radio systems than the one used in Norway, DAB. Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) is also used in Europe and Japan has ISDB-T and there is another technique used in the US and Arab countries called HD Radio.
FM broadcasting gives high-fidelity sound over the radio much superior to the AM stations. In Europe especially the AM bands are too many and this has helped the development of more FM stations.
Head of Digital Radio Norway, Ole Torvmark said: "We're the first country to switch off FM but there are several countries going in the same direction." Even Torvmark admitted that the challenge of fitting Norwegian cars with adapters costing over two hundred dollars Canadian was a huge challenge. An MP, Ib Thomsen, from the Progress Party which is part of the Conservative-led government said: "We are simply not ready for this yet. There are two million cars on Norwegian roads that don't have DAB receivers, and millions of radios in Norwegian homes will stop working when the FM net is switched off. So there is definitely a safety concern." However, for the same cost as FM, DAB will allow eight times more radio stations.
The UK is planning to review the need for a switchover once digital listening reaches 50 percent. UK Digital Radio spokesperson, Yvette Dore said that this level could be reached by the end of 2017 if current trends continue.

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