Tag Archives: Digital Radio

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.

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Norway: First country to end national broadcasts on FM

When listening to marginal FM signals, the AR1780 can be set to mono mode instead of default stereo mode.

(Source: The Guardian)

Digital switchover means that only the country’s local radio stations continue to use FM frequencies

Norway has completed its transition to digital radio, becoming the first country in the world to shut down national broadcasts of its FM network.

The country’s most northern regions and the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic switched to digital audio broadcasting (DAB) as scheduled on Wednesday, said Digitalradio Norge (DRN), an umbrella group for Norway’s public and commercial radio.

The transition, which began on 11 January, allows for better sound quality and more channels and functions at an eighth of the cost of FM radio, according to authorities.

The move has, however, been met with some criticism linked to technical incidents and claims that there is not enough DAB coverage across the country.

Radio users have also complained about the cost of having to buy new receivers or adapters, usually priced at between €100 and €200 (£88 and £176).

Only 49% of motorists are able to listen to DAB in their cars, according to DRN figures.[…]

Continue reading the full article at The Guardian.

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RadioWorld free eBook: Global Digital Radio

(Source: Radio World via Dennis Dura)

Digital radio continues to progress at a rapid pace worldwide. The latest Radio World International eBook, “Global Digital Radio,” takes a look at how each region is preparing for the transition, planned FM switchoff dates and requirements, ways in which digital radio can pave the way to the connected car, how digital radio’s emergency warning functionality can provide relief in times of disaster, and more.

Learn more in the latest free Radio World International eBook. Read it free
now — click here!

Produced by the editors of RADIO WORLD INTERNATIONAL.

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FMX: Not all broadcast innovations come to fruition

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Aaron Kuhn, who shares the following in-depth article from Tedium.com:

The story of FMX, the wannabe radio standard that was taken out in a very public way

Attempts at standard-building in the radio industry have come up repeatedly over the years, and few of them have stuck, not even in the nobody-knows-about-it way that AM stereo has made its mark.

Perhaps the most fascinating of these attempts to improve the radio signal, however, is that of FMX. Formulated in the late 1980s as a more pristine version of the FM dial, it intended to solve a major problem with FM that had been lingering since stereo had been added in the early 1960s: When you move to the edges of the coverage area, the sound quality gets really low.

As you can probably tell by the fact that it’s generally still a problem in many vehicles today, FMX failed to solve that problem.

But the reason why it failed to solve that problem is more complicated than saying it didn’t work. There were both technical and political issues at play.

The technology, for what it’s worth, did have the right folks supporting it: The brainchild of Tom Keller, an engineer with the National Association of Broadcasters, and Emil Torick, who worked in the same role for the CBS Technology Center, FMX was intended to fix stereo’s weaknesses in low-quality areas. The best part? It was backwards compatible. It would reduce noise and improve the fidelity of FM stations for stereos with upgraded equipment, but those with cheap beater radios would still have the same staticky-in-outlying-areas experience that they did before.

Paul Riismandel, a radio industry observer who co-founded the industry news outlet Radio Survivor, notes that the FMX technology wasn’t the first of its kind. For example, Dolby attempted to bring its noise-reduction technology, common in cassette tapes, to radio stations in the 1970s, but its offering was generally ignored due to the fact that proprietary equipment was needed. (Over at the Internet Archive is a sample of what Dolby FM sounded like during a 1978 Minnesota Public Radio broadcast.)

But FMX likely got further than most due to two factors that became apparent in the 1980s: The fuzziness of radio stations in fringe parts of the broadcast areas, and the pristine sounds of the compact disc, which was becoming popular at the time.

“FMX was a way for radio to compete with this new digital technology and adapt to listener expectations,” Riismandel noted.

But the FMX technology proved controversial within the radio industry due to two separate incidents that cost the technology its momentum.[…]

Read the full article on Tedium.com.

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DigiFAQ Updated: An HF Digital Decoding primer and reference tool

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Mike Agner, who writes:

[S]ome 20 years ago, Mike Chace-Ortiz, Stan Skalsky, myself and a bunch of other folks put together a FAQ about digital modes on radio – specifically modes going from LW way up into the UHF spectrum- called the DigiFAQ 5.3. I was responsible for the HF Software section, and as you might know, back then it was all about the hardware. InfoTech was still around, and amateur digital modes using the PK232 were plentiful. There is a PDF-based copy on the UDXF website [click here to download].

Now jump ahead 20 years or so, and things have changed considerably. Hardware is no longer king, and soundcard-driven software has taken over the market. Even receivers have changed – the desktops of old (quite apart from the current batch of ham transceivers that have general coverage radios built in) have been pretty much supplanted by Software Defined Radios. Along with that, the digital modes themselves have changed drastically with some disappearing altogether, with new ones like ALE going to the head of the pack. Too, the original DigiFAQ combined many ham-related modes along with everything else.

[O]ur original work didn’t really address some of the basic questions newcomers to this side of the hobby might have, [s]o with Mike Chace-Ortiz’s help, I have been involved in rewriting and updating the FAQ. Its approach is different – we start from topics like discussing radios, SDRs, some of the terminology you will see on mailing lists like the UDXF and much more. Only after we cover all of this do we discuss decoders – and even here, this topic is broken down even further, to include those decoders that play nice with some SDRs, and some of the tools you can use to help analyze an unknown signal.

Then we go into the modes (most are HF related, but we do touch on one or two common LW modes). We identify those modes that are dead, and separate them from the rarely used/active ones. Where possible we also supply waterfalls for each.

We also have an extensive appendix with a whole bunch of links for additional reading.

Perhaps of greatest use to newcomers is a listing of known scheduled broadcasts, so they can test what they download without wandering all over the place, hoping to find a readable signal – and potentially getting turned off when the don’t find one. We have also recovered a few articles from the old WUN archives as well as from SPEEDX (Society to Preserve the Engrossing Enjoyment of DXing – folded a long time ago) on certain digital related topics, such as discussing how to read an AMVER transmission.

It should be noted that we also sent the amateur radio digital modes to their own page for a very simple reason – while these modes are well understood (and many have their own devoted page that cover their mode far better than we can), the single biggest reason was that these modes can NEVER be encrypted (at least in the US, and likely other countries as well). Sad to say, but there are many modes outside of the amateur bands that we will never be able to read, and some whose purpose is unclear. As of this writing, many UDXF members are noting signals thought to be Russian in origin, utilizing a variation of MFSK-16, a mode generally associated with amateur radio.

Is this document complete? Not even close. It’s designed to be something of an introduction, with enough detail to hopefully draw in both the newcomer and experienced. There are new modes being identified, new networks, and even new players being found all the time. There’s still more work to be done on this, and this is yet another change to the original DigiFAQ- it’s hosted on the RadioReference wiki, where any member (with a free ID) can edit and add to it.

The URL is: http://wiki.radioreference.com/index.php/HF_Digital_Decoding

Regards, Mike

Thank you for sharing this update, Mike!

I receive a lot of questions regarding digital modes even though it’s an area of the hobby where I’m quite weak. I’m pleased that you, Mike, Stan and your team are all working to keep a reference source up-to-date for folks exploring this dynamic part of the radio hobby.

Click here to visit DigiFAQ at RadioReference.com.

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