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Farewell, FM radio...

15/02/2017
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Christophe Clementi
Software Engineer, EASI

2017 marks the end of an era, at least in Norway : it's now impossible to listen to a good old FM radio in your car. Most people say that it's insane, that there's nothing to replace it with, that "nothing beats true analog", ...
In fact, another contender exists, it's called DAB and it's been around for the last 20 years.

Yeah, DAB... Which means of course Digital Audio Broadcasting.

DAB (and DAB+, upgraded version since 2007) use the hertz waves to carry data, but in contrary to FM, the signal is digital, and compressed, allowing a smarter use of the frequencies. But there are also other advantages for the user :

  • Improved features : along with the audio, a variety of information can be sent (text, image, even video)
  • More stations, allowed by the dynamic compression (a talk show can be more compressed than a music program)
  • Automatic listing of radios
  • Better audio quality : as it's carrying digital signal, there is no hiss due to a weak signal : you have either the sound in the expected quality, either no sound at all

Norway being the first country to completely switch to Digital Audio Broadcasting, this case will be watched closely by other European nations.

This technology is still not that much present in our everyday life though. DAB receiver in cars are not so common, and with almost every car today being able to connect to your phone to play Internet radios, podcasts, or streaming platforms like Spotify, people are getting into new ways of broadcasting. It's not sure if the radio business model as seen by our grandfathers will still be relevant in the coming years.

So if you were planning on getting a new car or radio soon, this should be a good thing to keep in mind!

 

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