According to the Culture Ministry, one of the major reasons for the digital switchover is the operating costs. Among all the national radio stations in Norway, only five are still on FM. Yet, operating these stations cost eight times more than the 22 stations that are already being broadcast digitally. Because DAB transmitters are much more power-efficient, the switch to DAB will save an estimated US$25 million [$32 million] a year. Furthermore, 56 percent of Norway's population already listens to DAB, with 20 percent owning cars that have the ability to tune in to DAB.
Aside from Norway, other European countries are contemplating a similar move. Both Sweden and Denmark estimate the switchover to happen by 2022, while the United Kingdom is considering a progressive switch-off between 2017 and 2022.
Though the UK has studied DAB more extensively than any other nation, it seems like a switchover happening in 2017 is mere wishful thinking. Based on Rajar listening figures compiled last February, more than half of the British population still prefers to listen to analogue radio rather than digital radio. This is in spite of the fact that new cars being fitted with digital radio has grown substantially in recent years.
Still, efforts are being undertaken to make digital radio more accessible to the masses. For instance, digital platforms like Audioboom Group PLC (AIM: BOOM) that cater spoken word audio continue to grow in popularity. According to Audioboom's March update, the platform has gained more than 200,000 users for that month alone, thus hitting 3.6 million registered users. Audioboom has also integrated its content streaming platform to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for easy access even while on the road.
In addition, Ofcom, Britain's broadcast regulator, has announced trials of a new technology that could provide affordable access to DAB for small radio stations in the UK. Known as "small scale DAB," the experimental software derived from OpenDigitalRadio.org is best suited for broadcasting to small geographic areas, hence making it ideal for community and local radio stations. Some of the participants include Bradford Asian Radio, Riviera FM and University Radio York.
According to Ofcom, ten trials are planned, and each trial will run for nine months. "Each trial will allow new digital radio services to broadcast to a local area and will help explore how groups of radio stations can work together," Ofcom said in a written project announcement. "The trials will also inform Ofcom's work on identifying suitable frequencies for broadcasting smaller digital stations and help understand how these services could be licensed."