Willi Schreiner, CEO Absolut Radio and DRD Digitalradio Deutschland
2017 is coming to an end and it has been an exciting and eventful year for radio and especially for DAB+. Anyone who has believed that DAB+’s development will not continue will have been disappointed. All public radio stations are currently running various promotional clips and tips for DAB+ radios along with competitions. These can even be heard on commercial stations.
New programs are starting all the time, whether in Hamburg or Berlin, both public and private. Many cities already have more DAB+ stations than FM channels.
Another positive development was that the shutdown of national FM services in Norway has worked well. The networks have not broken, quite the opposite. DAB+ is also on the rise in France where, in 33 French regions, there will be soon DAB+ digital radio programs. The CSA is currently investigating whether there are any interested parties in the bidding for two national multiplexes and the corresponding frequency spectrum is reserved for this purpose.
Denmark and Wallonia have switched to DAB+ and in South Tyrol the first FM stations have been switched off. In Switzerland preparations for the FM switch-off in 2020 are already being considered. The UK could soon decide to phase out FM as digital usage has consistently increased for years.
We have seen intensive discussions about 5G. The hopes that a digital terrestrial alternative technology to DAB+ could be found have dissolved in the void. 5G is extremely expensive and nobody knows who should finance the expensive network construction. That’s why nobody is talking about nationwide coverage with 5G.
There are of course challenges waiting in the new year. 2018 will see the start of the 2nd Federal Muxes, for which Antenne Deutschland won the contract. But it will also see the merger of the current DAB+ listener research with information from Arbeitsgemeinschaft Media-Analyze eV (agma) – the results of this will be seen next year. Finally, it would be an incredibly positive sign for DAB+ if, in 2018, public broadcasters started to switch off the first FM stations.