Saturday, November 04, 2006

Digital Radio | Australia | DRM Canberra Broadcast Good For Asian Radio

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia has been asked to publish the following report on the Digital Radio Mondiale trials in Canberra, ACT, Australia.

A comprehensive AM-band field trial of the digital radio technology platform, Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) was completed between March and October 2006 by broadcast transmission provider, Broadcast Australia at its existing Gungahlin broadcast facility in Canberra.

The seven-month program incorporated a series of 'world-first' field tests, expanding the global knowledge-base for this important, emerging digital radio broadcasting platform.

The trial was carried out in partnership with Australia's multicultural and multilingual public broadcaster, Special Broadcast Services (SBS), which was also the trial license holder.

Technical experts from Broadcast Australia explored a range of services, obtained field performance measurements through extensive drive tests, and evaluated a range of transmission equipment and receivers.

Peter Kepreotes, Broadcast Australia Business Development Manager for Digital Broadcast Systems was responsible for management of the DRM trial program, and applauded the trial and its findings: "With our in- house capability and expertise, the seven-month trial has allowed us to complete significant DRM testing, some of which has not been conducted to-date outside of a laboratory," he said. "It has provided Broadcast Australia with a great deal of knowledge and experience with DRM, and arms us well in supporting our existing customers and Asian broadcasters as they explore this important new digital radio platform."

DRM is an open-standard digital radio system best suited for application in the short-wave and medium-wave (AM) bands. Originally conceived as an analogue short-wave replacement technology, DRM is particularly suited for regional and remote radio services. It can be used for a range of audio content, including multilingual speech programs and music. These can be complemented by text or additional data services, depending on the receiver functionality.

The findings, Kepreotes said, bode well for Asian broadcasters seeking digital alternatives for existing short-wave and AM-band analog radio services. "We believe DRM is a particularly suitable technology for regional and remote radio services across the Asian region. Most importantly, it overcomes the tuning and interference issues that challenge existing short-wave transmissions and provides enhanced levels of functionality, clarity and quality. All this achieved while retaining the long-distance reach of the original short-wave services," he said.

Kepreotes pointed out that DRM can readily be applied to many existing short or medium-wave transmission facilities within existing channel allocations.

"This is an important feature of DRM--in many cases there is no need for additional frequency planning. Apart from a complete high quality DRM replacement option, it also offers a simulcast capability. This means a radio broadcaster can potentially support both the existing analogue service and a new Digital Radio Mondiale service within the same channel allocation, for a suitable simulcast period. This allows broadcasters to introduce the higher quality DRM service to their listeners without immediately switching off the existing analogue service and facilitates a smoother transition from analogue to digital services. DRM also offers some multi-channel capability, which could support broadcasting in more than one language," concluded Kepreotes.

The the scope and trial results are expected to provide a positive foundation for radio broadcasters in both Australia and New Zealand, and across Asia, as they explore transitions to digital broadcast modes.

Digital Broadcasters Vendor News Asia notes that the detailed findings and outcomes of Broadcast Australia's DRM trial are expected to be made public by the group in the future, via the technology's industry body, the DRM Consortium.

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