Radio World reported on 9/30/16 that the British government’s Office of Communication sees value in small scale DAB technology and will likely allow permanent licensing for smaller stations:
Ofcom recently completed a trial of its “small-scale DAB” technology for 70 local and community radio stations. The official report that Ofcom created for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport deemed the trials “a success.”
Small-scale DAB is designed to allow smaller radio stations that were not able to afford the United Kingdom’s DAB radio platform go on the airwaves with available software and equipment for a lower cost, explains Ofcom.
The regulator concluded with its trials that small-scale DAB works and stations were able to coordinate with multiplex licensees. It also said the trials suggest there is a demand from smaller radio stations for this technology.
The U.K. government will look over the findings before determining the next stages, but Ofcom claims that it is ready to work on any necessary steps to enable small-scale DAB stations to be licensed permanently.Ofcom added that it has been contacted by other regulators in Europe who have expressed interest in using the same approach.
The new technique, known as ‘small-scale DAB’, allows local and community stations to hit the airwaves using freely-available software and equipment costing from £9,000.
Previously, these stations have broadcast on analogue AM and FM, but have been held back by the higher cost of broadcasting on the UK’s Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) radio platform.
We have also identified space in the airwaves that could support a UK-wide roll out of the technology, using spectrum bands previously occupied by business radio. Re-using these bands could pave the way for hundreds more stations to join the digital radio revolution.
This certainly seems like it could open up room for a good deal of alternative programming targeted toward smaller communities. It will be interesting to see the developments and the impact on the local radio community.