Ahead of the 2016 General Assembly, we speak to Branimir Vojcic, CEO and CTO at LN2, on the technical challenges facing DAB receivers and the requirements for handheld DAB equipment.
What does LN2 provide to the radio industry?
LN2 creates advanced technological solutions to enable various communication systems to operate near their theoretically achievable limits. Specifically for the radio industry segments, LN2 provides advanced digital receivers and decoders for error correction codes. These solutions enable receivers to operate at very low signal levels and thus improve coverage and quality of service. This, in turn, improves user experience and could also reduce CAPEX for operators in the case of new deployments. LN2 provides its IP in the form of modules that chipset vendors could readily incorporate into their designs, whether it is a DSP, FPGA or ASIC platform. In some specific cases, LN2 may provide the whole baseband receiver.
What key technical challenges remain for DAB adoption?
As with any new technology, the main challenge is how to do more with less. The industry needs to make receivers more affordable, with better performance in terms of listening experience and coverage.
One of the key challenges is to incorporate DAB/DAB+ receivers into handheld platforms, such as smartphones. To achieve that, receiver performance must be optimised, by both maximising the receiver sensitivity and minimising the DAB/DAB+ chipset size and battery consumption, often conflicting requirements. I would prioritise improving receiver sensitivity, and Moore’s Law and good engineering will take care of the latter. Another key challenge is to create new applications integrated with DAB/DAB+ broadcasts, in order to enrich user experience. The ultimate goal would be to provide interactive radio capabilities. These things will happen, it is just a question how soon.
What is the impact of these challenges?
Considering the example of getting DAB/DAB+ into smartphones, it will be very challenging to get excellent receiver performance within such a constrained form factor. But it will be very important to improve the receiver sensitivity as much as possible. Improved reception quality of DAB/DAB+ with smartphones, along with new applications, could significantly increase digital radio listening and provide a growth for broadcast industry.
What are you looking to hear or see from the industry at the General Assembly this year?
Beyond the official program I would like to get more information about the prospect of DAB adoption for the countries in a wait and see mode, especially those outside of Europe. I hope from discussions with participants that I could also get a better sense of where the industry is going with “siliconisation” of DAB/DAB+ receivers, broadening of DAB presence in smartphones, following LG’s lead, and especially novel applications that may make digital radio appealing to a broader audience.