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Icasa takes first step to commercial digital radio in SA

Digital radio is easier to use and tune into, reads a statement from the communications regulator.

Communications regulator Icasa has taken the first step to possibly introducing digital radio broadcasting in South Africa. The authority has published a discussion document on digital sound broadcasting services to solicit feedback from the industry.

South Africa has run several trials involving both digital audio broadcasting (DAB+) and digital radio mondiale (DRM) technology, but no commercial services have been launched to date. DAB is effectively a digital alternative to the analogue FM band, while DRM is effectively an alternative to AM broadcasts. Both offer better quality and more services than they analogue counterparts.

Icasa said it intends conducting an inquiry into the prospects of implementing a digital sound broadcasting service in South Africa. Digital radio is easier to use and tune into, reads a statement from the communications regulator.

Digital broadcasting service is an audio broadcasting technology aimed at providing superior quality sound broadcasting service using digital communication technology,” the regulator said in a statement.

Digital services differ from traditional analogue broadcasting services in that signals can be transmitted successfully at lower transmitter power, Icasa said.

“Digital radio is also easier to use and tune in to than analogue radio,” it said. “Data capabilities of digital radio can be used directly or modified for other related broadcasting activities such as Internet radio.”

Councillor Dimakatso Qocha said digital radio, if and when implemented, could help improve spectrum efficiency and management, and offer more choice for consumers. 

Parties interested in commenting on the discussion document must make representations with 45 days.

The discussion document is available on Icasa’s website.

This article was originally published on TechCentral here.

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Please get going so that 567 and 702 can get off AM – AM does not work well and not at all in electric vehicles

I listen to 702 on FM (92.7 for JHB area, 106 for Pretoria area). Do they still broadcast on AM as well?

supersunbird: Some of the 702 programs they also broadcast on AM 567 (Cape Talk) in the Western Cape Area. They also sometimes broadcast programs like Bruce’s Money program from Cape Talk when he is down there. There is no 567 AM (also known as medium wave MW) reception here in Gauteng. Why they don’t just merge the programs, I don’t know. Maybe someone reading this will tell us.

Why bother? Does anyone actually believe that, 15 years from now, any media will actually be “broadcast” via dedicated transmitters instead of being streamed over the Internet?

This looks like ICASA attemping to appear relevant.

Digital Radio using a few different technologies has been implemented in many countries, and continues to be rolled out. The technology that South Africa is considering using is DAB+. DAB+ was for example rolled out in Australia and the reports show that the listenership has grown and many compatible Radios have been sold. Plus the automotive industry is working together to include compatible radios in vehicles. I have read that research done shows that even when a listener can stream a local or national station, they use Digital Radio instead. It’s almost instantaneous to receive and it doesn’t use data.

We will have to wait 15 years to see if Terrestrial Radio is still being used to show that one of is right or wrong. I say Terrestrial Radio whether FM or Digital and even AM will still be around then.

I give ICASA credit for moving with the times.

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