The highest ever digital radio listening figures were recorded at the end of last year with DAB+ radio listening in Australia reaching a high of nearly 13% or more than 1.6 million people listening each week and the number of digital radios sold continues to rise with 87,555 DAB+ devices sold in the third quarter of 2013 bringing the total number of digital radios sold since the 2009 launch to 1,406,151.
Time Spent Listening (TSL) to radio via a DAB+ digital radio device is 12 hours more than double that of TSL to radio via the internet which remains at just over five and a half hours.
On Channel Repeaters
The DAB+ digital radio reception received a boost in a number of areas, with the switch on of the first three of the 12 new, commercial radio industry-funded DAB+ On Channel Repeaters (OCR) in metropolitan radio licence areas. The localised transmitters will boost digital radio coverage in dense urban areas, as well as extending coverage in geographically challenging environments and at the boundaries of the licence areas in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
The OCR solution was trialled successfully in the Melbourne CBD and has resulted in significant enhancement of in-building reception of digital radio services in central Melbourne. The Melbourne CBD was the first of the commercial radio repeater sites that have been licensed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for transmission. Repeaters in Bacchus Marsh and Fishermen’s Bend will further service the Victorian capital.
In Sydney, sites include Collaroy, Newport, Winmalee, Mt Badgelly, Redfern and in the Sydney CBD. Mt Mee will host a transmitter to service Brisbane’s northwest, while Perth’s DAB+ coverage will be boosted by repeaters in the Perth CBD and Minderie. There is no current need for repeaters in Adelaide as the existing digital radio transmitter is located at Mt Lofty and provides very good coverage.
Work has begun on the Digital Radio Industry Report released by Commercial Radio Australia annually in the first quarter of each year. It will be the fifth report compiled by CRA and includes official radio industry audience measurement data, consumer electronics market research, and an updated tracking of the household penetration forecast form PwC.
DAB+ in Automotive
Truck and bus manufacturer Fuso now includes DAB+ digital radio as standard across their range. This raises the number of Australian vehicle manufacturers now including DAB+ digital radio as standard or an option, in selected vehicles, to 11. Other manufacturers include Ford, Land Rover, Jaguar, Mercedes, Toyota, Lexus, BMW, Audi, Hino and Isuzu Trucks.
CRA has drafted an Australian Automotive Best Practice factsheet to assist automotive manufacturers produce better User Interfaces for their DAB+ digital radios. A range of aftermarket radios from Alpine, JVC, Kenwood, Orion, Pioneer, Sony and Pure that can be self installed or professionally fitted are also available for vehicles. Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) continues to work with the car industry to have DAB+ digital radios factory fitted.
DAB+ and mobile phone handsets
Mobile phone penetration in Australia and the region continues to grow. CRA continues to engage with Australian telecommunications companies to try and integrate DAB+ into mobile phones. CRA is a member of the iDAG group of European broadcasters who aim to coordinate an order from Telcos around the world for the Samsung Galaxy S3 with DAB+ enabled for European/Australian frequencies (it currently does DAB and a DAB+ prototype exists which operates on Korean Band III channels). CRA is also a member of the Universal Smartphone Group which is looking to define a common user interface for radio in Smartphones.
Commercial Radio Australia