Bassil Zoubi, Head of Transmission, Technical Department, Arab States Broadcasting
FM spectrum is currently congested within the Arab States. This has led to continued pressure for an alternative and effective solution for radio, and Arab States broadcasters have chosen to adopt DAB+ as the delivery platform for digital audio broadcasting. Tunisia, Qatar and Kuwait have conducted DAB+ transmissions, and there is interest also from other Gulf States including United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi), Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, as well as Algeria.
ASBU joined WorldDMB in 2014 in order to gain experience and support in the rollout of digital radio across the region. At a recent ASBU symposium on DAB+ held in Tunis in October 2014, the benefits of DAB+ broadcasting were highlighted to senior stakeholders from across the Arab region. The availability of receivers at different price points, that include enhanced features such as scrolling text and images, are seen as encouraging. ASBU members confirm that radio listening in-car is very important, and are encouraged by the growing adoption of DAB+ by the automotive sector.
ASBU requests WorldDMB members to assist by making available equipment as well as technical know-how for the various DAB+ pilot projects planned in the Arab States capital cities. Support from broadcasters, network operators, regulators and receiver manufacturers will be helpful.
In the meantime, broadcasters within ASBU are working with their regulators on how to provide incentives to both public and private broadcasters to implement DAB+ digital radio, as well as with network operators on financial models for a DAB+ implementation.
Finally, work has already started on a specification for receivers to render Arabic text. Further national workshops on DAB+ are in the pipeline.