Slovakia has been running trials using DAB for Early Warning Functionality (EWF), which were demonstrated this June. They have also carried out a consumer survey into DAB. Juraj Oravec is the Strategy & Development Manager of the Research Institute (VÚS) supporting the process laid down by the Slovak Government for digital broadcasting. Here he discusses the results of the EWF trial, the consumer research and what is next for the territory. www.vus.sk
1. Can you tell us about the situation with DAB+ in Slovakia?
DAB+ broadcasting in Slovakia started on 15 December 2015. Currently six trials are in operation (in Bratislava, Nitra, Košice, Žilina, and two in Banská Bystrica) with total coverage of almost 37 percent of population.
The Slovak government approved a Strategy for the Implementation for Terrestrial Digital Audio Broadcasting in 2017 to identify relevant areas of digitisation, suggest a set of basic procedures, and to define the conditions for the regular terrestrial digital radio broadcasting and the switch-off of the analogue terrestrial broadcasting.
The process is supported by the Research Institute of Posts and Telecommunications (VÚS) in Banská Bystrica.
2. What was the EWF trial?
VÚS deals with EWF within the framework of a project which is supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency, and is in discussions with the Ministry of Interior which is responsible for the distribution of emergency warnings to the population.
The Ministry of Interior established a Main Monitoring and Control Centre (CMRS) and eight regional Alert and Notification Centres. We designed software which simulates CMRS and generates Common Alert Protocol (CAP). The signal is distributed to the CAP conversion module located just in front of Content Server (CS). Then the signal follows to the DAB+ modulator and transmitter.
Further tests of all functionalities on air will follow.
We will continue discussions with the Ministry of Interior, with the aim of using DAB for distribution of emergency warnings. However, we are aware that, for regular operation, it will be necessary to have significantly increased coverage with DAB broadcasting.
3. What have been the results of the DAB+ trial?
Concerning DAB, the respondents were asked:
4. What do you see as the key benefits of DAB+ for Slovakia?
Slovakia, like many countries, suffers from the lack of FM frequencies and difficulty coordinating with neighbouring countries. We are convinced the increased demands from broadcasters can be accommodated only by digital broadcasting. Of course, it will benefit audiences as well.
DAB opens the door also for other data services and applications, such as above mentioned EWF, but also former “EWS” for controlling sirens. For the time being there are almost 1000 sirens in Slovakia, which are controlled via RDS in FM broadcasting.
5. What are the next steps for DAB+ in Slovakia?
Next steps will follow the Strategy of Implementation of Terrestrial Digital Audio Broadcasting mentioned. The digitisation process is in three phases. Now we are in Phase I – the preparatory phase – the main action being to amend the legislative environment and consequently to create stimuli and motivations for broadcasters.
We can confirm that network operators are interested in the expansion of digital broadcasting. Another positive message is that all stakeholders came to the consensus that an information campaign focused on population is absolutely essential.