Aus digital radio starts in Perth

Today, Monday May 4, will see the start of digital radio services in Australia, when commercial radio stations in Perth, Western Australia, start broadcasting the first permanent DAB+ services in Australia.

New radio stations will include Austereo’s “undiscovered music” station Radar and Pink Radio (devoted to the popstar Pink’s music and influences), and DMG’s dance station Novanation and Koffee.

After Perth, it will be the turn of commercial radio broadcasters in Melbourne (May 11), then Adelaide (May 15), Brisbane (May 25) and finally Sydney (May 30). Public service broadcasters the ABC and SBS are expected to start digital radio services throughout June and July.

Over 90% of the population of Perth will be able to access digital radio from day one – should they choose to buy a DAB+ radio. Radios on the market include MP3-style devices, hi fi, portable players, clock radios, car adaptors and PC radios.

However, entry level radios are likely to start from around A$150 and a radio with all the digital capabilities will start at around A$300. Sales will be monitored from day one by industry body Commericla Radio Australia through GfK. There are some 50 million analogue radios in Australia.

For the first week to 10 days, the DAB+ broadcasts will be in interference test mode, with power lowered at night to assess any interference.

Joan Warner, chief executive officer of Commercial Radio Australia, said: “The switch on of digital radio is a culmination of seven years work with the Federal Government, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), commercial broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, together with retailers and manufacturers of digital radios to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated switch on of a compelling new way of listening to radio.

“The Australian radio industry has invested in and created its digital future and will compete with other digital technologies and continue to maintain radio’s relevance in listener’s lives,” added Warner.

DAB+ is around twice as bandwidth-efficient as DAB due to the adoption of the AAC+ audio codec. DAB+ can provide high quality audio with as low as 64 kbit/sec. Reception quality is also more robust than with DAB.

Other countries already broadcasting in DAB+ include Italy, Malta and Switzerland.