Frontier Silicon is the leading provider of technology solutions for consumer digital radios. We enable brands and manufacturers to offer high quality, reliable devices at price points which consumers can afford. As a chip manufacturer, we need a sector with the scale to justify investment in each new generation of silicon.
In digital radio, we see three key drivers of industry scale:
1. new territories adopting digital radio
2. digital radio making progress in the automotive sector and smartphones
3. countries committing to Digital Switchover
The number of territories adopting digital radio is growing steadily, with the Netherlands, Poland and France being the most recent to launch. Several other markets in Europe, Africa and Asia are in the process of deciding on if / when to commit to a digital radio future.
Building momentum in the automotive and mobile phone sectors is the second key priority. Increasingly, vehicle manufacturers are engaging with the opportunities offered by DAB / DAB+. WorldDMB has recently established an “automotive taskforce” to help co-ordinate efforts to encourage vehicle manufacturers to install digital radio as standard – across Europe and beyond. Digital radio in smartphones is a medium term opportunity – an area where broadcasters are currently taking the lead.
The final piece in the jigsaw is DSO.
When policy makers, regulators and broadcasters commit to firm dates for DSO, it can have a significant impact on digital radio sales – when DSO was announced in Norway in 2011, digital radio sales more than tripled in two years – from 135,000 in 2011 to 511,000 in 2013. Supporting the industry’s progress towards DSO is therefore an important focus for Frontier Silicon.
There are three areas where we can help:
1. Solutions for consumer devices
2. Solutions to convert cars to digital radio
3. Sharing of best practice
Later this year, we will introduce Kino 4, our next generation chip. Following investment of over $10m, this new solution will offer lower costs, more efficient power consumption and improved functionality. Modules based on Kino 4 will enable both low cost entry level receivers and more sophisticated devices, such as hybrid radios. For the automotive aftermarket, we already offer industry leading single tuner solutions with features such as service following, up-to-date service lists and fast scan times. Further enhancements will follow based on Kino 4.
Finally, we seek to work with all industry players to help share best practice in helping to create the conditions which will enable policy makers, regulators and broadcasters to commit to DSO. To help meet this objective, in my role as WorldDMB President, I chair the WorldDMB Digital Switchover Group. This Group was established at the end of 2013 with the aim of sharing knowledge amongst WorldDMB members about best practice for achieving DSO. This Group has met twice – in Amsterdam and Dublin – with participants from a mix of established and emerging markets. This network facilitates the cross-fertilisation of ideas and experiences.
Establishing Digital Radio effectively
From a manufacturer’s point of view, we see seven building blocks to create the conditions for a successful implementation of DSO:
1. Commitment from policy makers, regulators and broadcasters – there needs to be a long-term vision that the future of radio is digital. Regulation, especially for the commercial sector, needs to provide the necessary incentives to gain their commitment. Public broadcasters require adequate funding.
2. A digital radio content proposition clearly differentiated from (and stronger than) that available on FM.
3. Good coverage of digital radio transmitters – starting with large population centres and major roads – then building across the whole country.
4. Availability of a full range of digital radio receivers – including those with true mass market pricing.
5. Clear strategy for converting the car parc – cars already on the road (essential to have support of the automotive industry)
6. Strong and sustained consumer marketing and retail support. Consumers and retailers both need to have a clear understanding of the benefits of digital radio.
7. Cross-industry co-operation – facilitated by a cross-industry stakeholder body
Glovane Co.Ltd is a supplier of digital radio receiver SoCs. Our customers are receiver manufacturers for the European market, and that is where we currently focus all our efforts. We have been supplying our own developed solutions to the European market through the world’s major automotive/electrical appliance brands. Digital Radio Switchover updates are very important to us as it is a key decider to the development period of digital radio growth. Through the WorldDMB Industry Updates, we check market/industry development news, policy issues, technical trends to ensure we are up to date on the latest developments. Any announcements on the issue of DSO from different markets as switch off announcements will be an important factor to help extend the digital radio market as well as the market for manufacturers.
The development of better, creative solutions with fair competition and opportunities will bring the ultimate result for everyone. One of the most important steps for bringing about DSO from our perspective is raising customers’ awareness and importance of digital radio through coordinated industry promotion of digital radio to the market. Secondly, fair competition of solution providers and suppliers is very important. Various functions and products through many brands are developing the market and give wide range choice to the customers. When all these efforts from industry combined and coordinated, bringing about DSO earlier will be easier.