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DAB to drive digital radio adoption

March 25, 2007

This piece on DAB radios was written late last year. Am publishing it here, and look forward to updates, comments, etc.

At present, over 40 countries support digital radio. Europe is digital radio’s largest market at the moment, with greatest of deployments in the UK. As of last year (2006), there were an estimated 3 million digital radio users in the UK alone and about 4 million users globally. The success of digital radio will depend on how the world will embrace the new standard of DAB (digital audio broadcasting). Consumer adoption would also entail putting up new stations that would broadcast new content unique to digital radio.

London based RadioScape, a leader in end-to-end broadcast and receiver solutions for digital radio and mobile TV, has been expanding its operations in the Asia Pacific region over the past two years. It opened an R&D center at Hong Kong Science Park in July 2006, and introduced several new products. By setting up the R&D center, it hopes to tap China (Hong Kong and Mainland) based manufacturers of digital radio, most of whom export products to Europe.

In 2006, there were 3 million units for DAB, with about 2.4 million alone in the UK. In 2007, industry forecasts place the figure at 5 million units and 6 million units, with about 3.6 million from the UK. Scandinavian markets are growing, but largest potential markets within Europe include France and Germany. These countries have largely ignored DAB, partly due to regulatory issues. Radioscape believes that Germany would be supporting DRM.

Within 2007-08, both Germany and France would likely be switching on to digital radio. These events would see digital radio’s focus shift away from the UK to the rest of Europe, and trigger the economic cycle for the digital radio market.

In the rest of the world, digital radio has been making headway in North America by satellite standards such as XM and Sirius, which have about 10 million subscribers between them.

Another standard, HD Radio, developed by Ubiquity Corp, is also there. There is no question that there will be a shakeout of standards in the future. This adds another pro to Radioscape’s stance of maintaining software-based modules. It does not want a hardware design tied down to a particular standard.

I would like to see some updates regarding DAB in India, and love to meet up with companies offering DAB radios for the Indian market.

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Categories: DAB, DAB radios
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