Category Archives: Digital Modes

Could Norway and NATO clash over DAB frequencies?

(Source: NewsInEnglish.no via Mike Hansgen)

Thousands of ordinary Norwegian citizens aren’t the only ones frustrated and dissatisfied after Norway’s forced transition to DAB radio. It meant shutting down FM radio, and now NATO may find itself in conflict with the civilian DAB frequencies it was granted for exercises in Norway.

Norwegian politicians and authorities were reportedly warned before they imposed DAB on the civilian population that it could cause problems in crisis situations.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported on Tuesday that civilian radio and the military use the same frequency of 225-245 MHz. NATO had long ago pointed to that frequency as its own when Norway decided to switch from FM to DAB and Norway’s national communications authority (Nkom) allocated space on the network.

[…]The biggest test will come this fall, when around 40,000 soldiers, 130 military aircraft and 60 vessels from 29 countries will take part in NATO’s huge military exercise called Trident Juncture. Asked whether there will be problems with radio communication, divisional director at Nkom John-Eiving Velure gave Aftenposten an “unconditional yes.” Per-Thomas Bøe, spokesman for the Norwegian defense department also confirmed that NATO can override civilian DAB radio if it needs to.

That means civilian radio broadcasts can be cut out, like they allegedly were during the NATO exercise Dynamic Guard outside Bergen in February. Military communication among aircraft, vessels, army divisions and the commando center can also be disturbed.[…]

Click here to read the full story.

UPDATE: SWLing Post contributor Mike Barraclough points to the following article in telecompaper and notes:

The Norwergian Communications Authority has diplomatically stated that this article “has caused unnecessary concerns.”

Nkom denies DAB frequency use is at odds with NATO usage

Norwegian communications regulator Nkom said an article by newspaper Aftenposten reporting conflict with NATO over the use of airwaves normally reserved for DAB radio has caused unnecessary concerns. The regulator says Norway can decide for itself how to use frequencies, providing there is no breach of international agreements that it has signed. Anyone using radio frequencies in Norway must obtain a permit from Nkom, even the national armed forces and Norway’s NATO allies.

Nkom said use of frequencies for the Norwegian DAB network has been coordinated internationally and agreed with more than 30 European countries. Nkom would not allow anyone to use airwaves if this would disrupt normal broadcasting services.

DRM feeds RNZ Pacific relays

(Source: Radio World via Mike Hansgen)

RANGITAIKI, New Zealand — Radio New Zealand Pacific, the official international arm of Radio New Zealand, is using Digital Radio Mondiale digital radio transmission/reception equipment to feed studio-quality audio to some of its 20 relay stations in the Pacific Ocean region. The others use satellite feeds or web downloads.

The locations being served by DRM include the Cook Islands, where RNZ Pacific’s programs are rebroadcast locally in analog mode by Aitutaki 88FM, the islands’ only broadcaster. RNZ Pacific also serves Tonga, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands using DRM; among others. Previously, RNZ Pacific had fed its relays using analog AM shortwave radio, with that transmission mode’s limited audio range and interference issues.

“When DRM became available to us in 2005, we saw it as a great opportunity to provide high quality audio to Pacific radio stations that relayed our news broadcasts from our AM transmitter,” said RNZ Pacific’s Technical Manager Adrian Sainsbury. “As a platform to deliver good quality audio to remote island FM stations, it has been a great success.”[…]

Click here to read the full article at Radio World.

As the article points out, RNZ has been using DRM as a feed for quite a few years. I think this is a brilliant use of the technology. Of course, those of us in the rest of the world can snag RNZ DRM broadcasts as well.

PatronX Titus SDR receiver update

A number of SWLing Post readers have been asking about the status of the Titus II portable DRM/SDR radio. I’ve been checking the project website, but had not seen an update in a long time, so I contacted the company. Mike, with PantronX, kindly replied with the following update:

As you might be aware, we have joined up with Fraunhofer to include their MMPlayer app standard on Titus–what a difference a professional decoder, for both analog, DRM(+), and DAB(+), makes! MMPlayer is full featured even including reliable one way file downloads with DRM.

We are attempting also to license HD to include on the app for North America, making a truly worldwide receiver. Some deficiencies in our version of Android have caused issues as well as MMPlayer. All of which have caused delays leading to some serious business decisions – as you can imagine. You are correct that broadcasters have made large orders that will be fulfilled first. There are units in the field testing and such and continuing resolution of the software issues.

One of the issues that folks seem to have a hard time understanding is that we can not just build a few hundred or even thousands of units. Our minimum run is 10,000pcs! To do that everything has to be 100% – including the software. We simply will not ship units that are not 100%. Titus works, MMPlayer works – its that last 5% that takes the most time to resolve. These facts preclude any incremental production attempts. All that being said, we are very hopeful that the first production run is ready by last quarter of this year.

Thank you for the update, Mike!

In the pipeline: a review of the Sangean HDR-14 portable AM/FM HD radio

Based on readers correspondence, the most anticipated non-shortwave radio to hit the market this year might be the Sangean HDR-14 AM/FM HD radio.

Sangean sent me a sample evaluation unit and I’ve had it on the air since taking delivery last week. I’m starting to put the elements of my HDR-14 review together while also writing Part 2 of my SDR primer for The Spectrum Monitor magazine (Part 1 was published last week). Indeed, I’ve a total of five reviews and evaluations on my desk right now–!

So far, I’m impressed with the little HDR-14. If you recall my review of the Sangean HDR-16, I mentioned that one of my benchmark distant HD FM stations is WFAE 2–its transmitter is a full 101 miles from my home and I’m well outside even the the fringe reception area.

The HDR-14 has a unique back stand: a small foot that swivels out of the base of the chassis.

I’m pleased to note that on more than one occasion, I’ve gotten a reliable HD lock of WFAE from my porch. A most positive sign!

Over the next three weeks, the HDR-14 will be travelling with me and I hope to even snag an AM HD station if all goes well.

I can tell you already that I’m as pleased as punch Sangean gave the HDR-14 a total of 20 AM and 20 FM memory presets. The larger HDR-16, in contrast, only has 5 AM and 5 FM presets.

Look for my review of the HDR-14 on the SWLing Post in the coming weeks. If interested, follow the tag: HDR-14

I’ve noted that both Universal Radio and Amazon.com (affiliate link) have the HDR-14 in stock and shipping. Universal’s price is $79.99 plus shipping and Amazon’s price is $88.67 including shipping.

UK digital radio listening now eclipses analog according to study

(Source: Radio Mag Online via Marty Kraft)

LONDON — In the United Kingdom, the use of digital sources for radio has reached 50.9%, up from 47.2% a year ago, accounting for the majority of all listening for the first time, according to RAJAR Q1 2018 data.

“With the 50% digital listening threshold now met, it is anticipated that the UK government will undertake a review to assess digital radio progress and determine next steps in due course,” according to a Digital Radio UK press release.

Digital listening share is comprised of listening across all digital platforms: DAB in homes and in cars, apps and online (which includes the growing number of smart and voice-controlled speakers) and DTV — and this is the first time that listening to digital has been greater than analog platforms — FM and AM.

[…]The UK’s three leading radio broadcasters — the BBC, Global and Bauer, which collectively account for over 90% of UK radio listening — are “fully committed to delivering a digital future for radio and look forward to working with government and the supply chain to continue the transition to digital radio.”

Click here to read the full article.