Sweden (Again) Rejects DAB

Degen-DE27Digital Radio FM Europe blog is reporting Sweden wants to keep FM radio:

Parliament Confirms Rejection of DAB Radio in Sweden [updated]

Public radio continues on FM and will push for extending its remit to include digital radio online.

The Constitutional Standing Committee (KU) in Riksdagen (the Parliament) has processed the government missive regarding the 2015 National Audit review of digital radio in which the proposal for a transition from FM to DAB+ in 2017-2022 was rejected. After a short debate and without objection from any of the eight political parties Riksdagen today appended the missive to the protocol. This marks the end of 24 years of efforts to replace FM with DAB in Sweden.
Already in June 2015 the Government took the decision to reject the proposal for a digital transition for terrestrial radio. In November this was piggy-backed in the budget proposal to the Parliament.
This vote in the committee did not come as a big surprise as there has been an increasing skepticism in most parties against closing the FM band. A year ago in the consultation round the proposal was put into question or rejected by most qualified state institutions as PTS the telecom authority, KTH Royal Institute Of Technology, the Armed Forces, the Transport Agency and the Competition Authority as well as organizations as Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, Ericsson and the Community Radio Assn.
KU has been listening to the arguments for DAB+ from the two commercial networks and the public radio Sveriges Radio (SR) as well as critical comments by the Public Service Council. KU notes that the Government in its missive says that it cannot be ruled out that the question of digitalization of terrestrial radio will be on a future agenda. KU is satisfied with the Government plan to observe international developments. However, there was no other comments by the committee other than the missive should be appended to the protocol.
This marks the end of 24 year period of futile efforts to introduce the DAB technology in Sweden. SR started testing DAB in Stockholm continuous since 1992 and officially went on air 1995 the same year as BBC introduced DAB in the UK.  2005 DAB was rejected for the first time by the social democratic government. Program have been broadcast in an inofficial mode via DAB and DAB+ transmitter in four major cities but few listeners are reported.
Today up to a third of all listening on the public radio channels are on-line. This is much due to the high smartphone usage on 3G/4G LTE networks in Sweden. While forced to leave the DAB agenda SR will now request that the politicians will include its Internet activities in the next public service remit 2018.
The two commercial radio networks Bauer and MTG still hold licenses to start DAB+ broadcasting later this year. But they are not expected to go DAB alone without having the public radio onboard. 60 % of the radio audience in Sweden is listening to SR. In the consultation round the DAB proposal was rejected by the community radio organisations.

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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11 thoughts on “Sweden (Again) Rejects DAB

  1. Roy Sandgren

    Talked to the man handling DAB+ in the department and he told me DAB+ is NOT rejected. It’s postponed only !! This in Sweden. FM will not be switched off either. We will know more in the year of 2017 !!

  2. Tarmo Tanilsoo

    First, a disclaimer: I have no financial relationship to any broadcaster, let alone WorldDAB itself, in fact I used to be DAB opponent until DAB+ came around and I got to try it while travelling in 2014. But some of the anti-DAB claims made however are outright inanities and paranoia. As for the suggestions that DAB+ is not DXable, during a good tropo, I’ve been able to catch stations as far as over 1000 km away and that with an original telescopic antenna, and we don’t even have big mountains here even though I live at the top of a hill. Of course it helps that the band is empty here, because I live in what I call “the valley of the DABless”. Obviously, if you are next to a big gun transmitter, it will be more difficult for the radio to get weaker stations, but surely this is the case for FM too?

    I definitely understand the frustrations about British DAB. During my week-long visit there even as I almost exclusively used DAB, I picked the out the best sounding stations, especially when using earphones. Mono channels were instantly disqualified unless they were either talk or a speciality stations. However I got a feeling that the DAB+ channels on the mainland sound better. In any case, it is better than HD Radio in the US by any margin.

    Back home I’ve observed that I prefer listening to satellite radio stations over DVB-S over local FM channels, because while monophonic audio is no problem, good stereo without hiss takes a bit of acrobatics with an antenna(which is probably why some receivers reduce stereo separation to make hiss less apparent. Yes, manufacturer of my smartphone’s FM chip, I am talking about you), especially as I get stations coming in from multiple different directions. And being in digital areas really spoiled me with having no hiss or noise. Internet is not an option owing to data caps on my service.

    1. Robert

      Thanks, Tarmo, for sharing your firsthand experience with DAB+ and your reception reports. It sounds as if DX reception of DAB+ is a bit like DX reception of Digital TV here in the States. Neither equal the analog opportunities of the past, but still possible when conditions are right.
      Cheers! Robert AK3Q

  3. John

    DAB+ has poor signal propagation and is really only copyable in metropolitan areas. Dxing DAB+ is out of the question.

    FM has a wide dynamic range and far greater signal propagation than DAB+. Hence, there is no technical reason why FM should be replaced at all. The push for DAB+ is being driven by profit and greed. The Swedes understand this and seem to have more common sense than most countries.

    1. Alex Lawler

      I dx DAB and DAB + on a regular basis. Living in eastern England in the last few months I have received Dutch and German multiplexes. The future will be DAB dx in this country at least for alot of Western Europe.

  4. Cap

    I am not a big fan of DAB and the very dated codec which is still very much in use, primarily because not that many radios can be updated that easily (if at all). Most consumers would prefer to select a menu option and update via the web (if WIFI enabled) otherwise Over The Air is the only other easy option (if it is available) as USB updating is normally plagued with problems for consumers.
    DAB+ addresses most of the issues but to compare to DRM I suppose on balance if DRM had taken off there would be a similar amount of receivers unable to decode the newer super efficient MPEG-4 xHE-AAC codec.
    I listen to DAB every day and feel I have a bit of experience as a listener, the audio quality issue only really comes into play if there are lots of stations on the MUX as bandwidth soon becomes an issue.
    The reception from DAB transmitters can be ropey, particularly in the city where FM comes through crystal clear, hence why all major radio stations (including local) still use FM to fill the gaps were DAB can’t get to (and to maximise listeners such as non-DAB car radios etc.).
    I recall I relative purchasing a DAB radio as a gift for a friend and the user could not use the DAB radio due to the poor reception, but FM was fine.
    I find it fascinating how consumers respond to new technologies and generally (unlike us hobbyists) they want to switch on, hit a few buttons and expect the tech to do the rest (as it should).
    FM is very unlikely to disappear any time soon on VHF and DRM is unfortunately the Betamax of the radio world where it will be used by a small number of broadcasters and not fully adopted…..although I hope I’m so very wrong as I am a big fan of DRM.

  5. Roy Sandgren

    The Publice service DAB+ national service will be postponed until 1 of July 2017. DAB+ will be open for new applications from more private local stations. The difference is that FM will not be switched off and DAB+ will continue. Swedish Radio got 4 broadcasting areas still in old DAB+. in the national MUX 12 B and vacant channels open to new private national broadcasters.

  6. DL4NO

    This will lead to a divide in Scandinavia: Norway is to close down FM and Sweden will not introduce DAB.
    Positively speaking: This leads to great opportunities for DXers, especially in Norway.

    DXing on DAB signals might be critical due to the common-frequency broadcasting. The exception might be local broadcasting on DAB: The national grids must transmit exactly the same bitstream ob every transmitter of their common frequency network. But local broadcasting will most often use a single transmitter on a channel that is not re-used for several 100 km.

    1. Ayar

      Just to set the record straight, Scandinavia includes Denmark as well where DAB (and soon DAB+) is already established.


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