Patrick Hannon, President, WorldDAB
2016 promises to be an exciting year for DAB digital radio. Across Europe, momentum is building – and in the Rest of the World, there are increasing signs of interest in numerous markets.
Leading the way is Norway, where the countdown to Digital Switchover (DSO) is firmly underway with the first FM signals scheduled for switch off in just over 12 months’ time. In Switzerland, plans for DSO are to be completed by the end of June, and the UK will see the launch of its second national commercial multiplex this spring. Denmark and Italy continue to make progress and the Netherlands has seen the most successful launch ever of DAB+.
Nevertheless, the major focus in Europe remains Germany. Significant progress has been made in the last 12 months. Strong political and broadcaster commitment, coupled with accelerating receiver sales (Jan-Sep up over 50% year on year), has established a solid platform for the future. Currently, broadcaster funding plans are being discussed and we should soon have greater clarity regarding the speed of the next phase of market development.
Against this background, a growing number of European markets are starting on their roll-out plans. Belgium, France, Poland, Austria and Czech Republic have all taken important steps forwards in the last year – with more to come in 2016.
One of the highlights of 2015 was the presence of two Ministers at the WorldDAB General Assembly. Ed Vaizey, UK Minister of State for Culture & the Digital Economy and Dorothee Bär, Parliamentary State Secretary of the German Federal Ministry of Transport & Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) outlined their visions for digital radio. This has created a powerful platform for greater political and industry engagement with the European Commission. In the coming months, WorldDAB, its members and various government Ministries will be engaging with European institutions to help push for EU support for DAB digital radio.
In the Rest of the World, Australia continues to lead the way – and other markets are beginning to put their feet in the water. Trials are now under way or being considered in Turkey, Tunisia, South Africa, the Gulf States, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Beyond this geographical expansion, our major focus in 2016 will be on the automotive sector. In the UK, Norway and Switzerland, most new cars now come with DAB as standard. Our goal now is to see similar progress in other territories. In parallel, many WorldDAB members are involved in discussions about securing DAB in mobile phones – we hope to see progress in this area in 2016.
As the international footprint of DAB expands, it is essential we have appropriate levels of co-ordination on technology and marketing issues. The Technology Committee under the leadership of Lindsay Cornell (Principal Systems Architect, BBC) has played an important role in ensuring we have a fit-for-purpose European Specification. In coming months, a Marketing working group will be discussing how WorldDAB members can most effectively co-ordinate their efforts. Anyone wishing to contribute to this group should please get in touch.
Finally, best wishes for the coming year and I hope to see many of you at one or more of the 20+ events that WorldDAB will be involved with over the next twelve months.
For more information on WorldDAB events visit www.worlddab.org/events
Read the WorldDAB press release on the General Assembly