Open source digital radio could deliver community broadcasting explosion

An open source DAB technology to be trialled by Ofcom could spark a community broadcasting boom that enhances the DAB radio offering and advances the digital radio switchover.

Currently, the cost of broadcasting on DAB is far beyond the reach of local radio stations. However, a system pioneered by Ofcom engineer Rashi Mustapha, which runs on freely available software, would allow small, provincial radio stations to broadcast DAB radio for a fraction of current costs.

If the trials are successful, UK radio listeners could benefit from more local and community radio stations on DAB.

The UK’s first small scale DAB experimented was conducted in 2012.

Rashid, a senior broadcast specialist at Ofcom, said: “The first test of the small scale DAB concept was from the roof of the tallest building in East Sussex. Despite an unexpected delay to the start of the experiment while waiting for young Peregrine falcons to fly from their nest, the technology provided very encouraging results.”

“The trials being announced today are the next step in potentially helping hundreds of small stations to start broadcasting on digital radio.”

The approach known as ‘small scale DAB’ substitutes expensive hardware equipment for software from opendigitalradio.org, and is best suited for broadcasting to small geographic areas, ideal for community and local radio stations.

Ofcom engineer Rashid Mustapha was granted a test licence and installed a low power digital radio transmitter on a Brighton roof-top. The test successfully delivered a reliable, high quality digital radio broadcast.

Ofcom has invited applications to take part in up to ten trials, which are expected to run for nine months. The deadline for applications is 3pm on 7 April 2015.

DTG Staff  |  24.02.2015

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