It looks like we might get "DAB Lite" after all. I'm pleased to see that Ofcom has today reported favourably on a DAB experiment which was set up in Brighton between September last year and this January.
It specifically used low-cost low-power techniques to generate a DAB signal which could be useful and affordable for community and small commercial stations. For the trial the complex DAB multiplex signal was generated using computer software - rather than the expensive hardware used by the big boys.
The Ofcom report says: "As well as testing the viability and reliability of new wireless techniques
for generating a Eureka 147 DAB compliant signal in a real world scenario and it
also allowed various measurements, and comparisons with existing multiplexes to
be made. The experiment successfully demonstrated that much of the
infrastructure can now easily be implemented in software, and that integration
with public IP networks improves accessibility while reducing the capital and
operating costs quite dramatically."
The test also demonstrated that a
low-cost, low power approach could deliver a reliable, high quality service using interleaved frequencies - which are left over between areas and unsuitable for
use by larger networks.
Ofcom concluded: "This work demonstrated that it is feasible to deliver DAB transmission
infrastructure at much lower cost than currently required for equipment to
deliver wide-area coverage. Nevertheless, significant further work is required
to identify suitable spectrum for services making use of these technologies. In
addition, it will be necessary to consider how they might be licensed to cover
particular areas, especially in circumstances where there is a requirement to
carry more than one service on the multiplex. When these issues have been
resolved, these new techniques could find particular application for Community
Radio or smaller scale commercial radio stations. These techniques might also
assist in rolling out existing networks to serve more remote population areas
where existing approaches might not prove to be cost-effective."
The full print version of the report can be found here: