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Digital Radio Mondiale Drives Forward

Sponsored by

February 2018

The Heartbeat of High Power

High Frequency Innovation Ampegon‘s transmission systems are fully customizable, integrating flexibility, ease of use and the latest in DRM digital broadcast technology.







What Is Local Radio’s Digital Future?


DRM — for Large Regions


Convergence: Opportunity or Dead End


DRM Emergency Warning Functionality Saves Lives


Commercial Stations’ Digital Dilemma


DRM Goes Big on Two Continents


Digital: Catch All or Step by Step?


The Potential of DRM Datacasting


Listeners Want Choice, Possibilities


DRM Advances Around the World


Digital Radio Mondiale for Local Coverage


Podcast, Broadcast or Simulcast?

Digital Radio Mondiale Drives Forward


How has the Digital Radio Mondiale digital radio standard progressed Digital Radio over the years, and what Mondiale are its prospects? Drives Forward With recent major installations taking place in India and Hungary and a number of trials going Marguerite on worldwide, broadcastClark ers are increasingly learnContent Director ing how to best implement this digital radio technology, whether for wide-range coverage or local reach. They are also discovering the system’s additional functions, which include using DRM to communicate with vulnerable populations in times of crisis through its emergency warning system, as well as allowing users to provide supplementary information, such as traffic and weather updates by means of datacasting. This latest Radio World International eBook, sponsored by Digital Radio Mondiale, explores DRM’s various applications, technical challenges, receiver status and outlines DRM employment worldwide. It also provides insight and advice from broadcasters and manufacturers on topics including the standard’s datacasting potential; how to best approach receiver design; emergency warning system functionality; when it is beneficial to use DRM to cover smaller areas, such as was tested in South Africa and Indonesia, or over vast regions, as achieved by All Air India. In addition, this eBook features a compilation of recent blog articles written by DRM Consortium Chairman Ruxandra Obreja. In these entries, Obreja shares her thoughts on the global digital marketplace, as well as on various pertinent issues that are influencing the radio industry and other media today. Radio World has published 41 eBooks exploring the many facets of radio station and network operations, including mobile reporting, studio/transmitter links, visual radio, studio apps, social media, consoles, digital radio developments and more. Find them at www.radioworld.com/ebooks. — Marguerite Clark Sponsored by

February 2018


A Streamlined Approach to DRM Receiver Design DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Cover image: iStockphoto/Bartosz Hadyniak

Radio World International Edition | February 2018


What Is Local Radio’s Digital Future? It’s time to zero in on the medium’s importance and facilitate its digital transition By Ruxandra Obreja

Nelson Mattos, an ex-Google executive, reinforced this sentiment by indicating that he feels Facebook and Google have not yet successfully managed to engage with relevant local content and that this point could possibly be one of their main future challenges. The good news is that local radio is exactly that, local. It speaks directly and immediately to the communities it serves. During emergencies, local radio is often on the side of the heroes, as was demonstrated during the Manchester bombing or the Grenfell fire in western London. Local stations, both public and commercial, were at the center of the reporting, deftly changing schedules to accommodate stories and provide necessary information. We really shouldn’t be surprised then that, as in the

The author is chairman of Digital Radio Mondiale. Much attention has been placed lately on the words “fake news.” Who would have thought that as the media in general are trying to retain or regain the trust of the public, fake news is giving a boost to local radio? BBC Director General Tony Hall surprised attendees at a local radio celebration, which took place in Coventry in November, by citing fake news as the reason for reprieving BBC local radio of a $13 million budget cut. In battling fake news, the BBC boss sees local radio as an essential part of its role. “Local radio is in the DNA of our communities. I think it is more important than ever,” he said.

FUTURE, continued on page 6 ❱


Local radio speaks directly to the communities it serves.

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


DRM — for Large Regions AM is being revitalized through Digital Radio Mondiale

GUESTCOMMENTARY By Nigel Fry The author is head of distribution for the BBC World Service. The BBC World Service, available on radio, TV and online, is part of one of the largest news organization in the world, the BBC. The weekly reach of the World Service on all platforms accounted for 269 million (up from 246 million in 2015–16). Not long ago the World Service announced its biggest expansion since the 1940s, in a move designed to bring its independent journalism to millions more people around the world, including in places where media freedom is under threat.

South and South East Asia. Medium wave is of importance in the Arabic-speaking world and West Asia. BENEFITS

Right from its late ’90s inception, the development of Digital Radio Mondiale was fully supported and enhanced by the BBC World Service. DRM was seen as an efficient replacement for the analog AM transmissions. When we consider scarcity of spectrum for new uses and appreciate the characteristics of the radio broadcast bands, we recognize the tremendous properties these continue to offer broadcasters to deliver programs over sometimes very large distances and areas or in difficult terrain. Digitizing these bands with a system such as DRM offers many more benefits to the audience and broadcaster. For example, we serve one of our markets with 32 low-power FM transmitters (each with a radius of about 40 km) and about 20 percent of the country is covered. Apart from the electricity costs for these FM transmitters, there are operational costs to do with staffing, service and maintenance. In the future, one single DRM shortwave transmitter using a near-vertical incidence and a power consumption of 6 kW could offer at least two very good audio services (plus data) and 100 percent territorial coverage. Eight million households in cities and remote

BBC’s largest shortwave markets are West Africa, Central Africa and across South and South East Asia. Medium wave is of importance in the Arabic-speaking world and West Asia.

The World Service expansion includes new services in Afaan Oromo, Amharic, Gujarati, Igbo, Korean, Marathi, Pidgin, Punjabi, Serbian, Telugu, Tigrinya and Yoruba — as well as enhancing existing services in Russia, Africa and around the Arab world. Large numbers of the BBC’s audience still need international radio broadcasts. Historically, people listened to BBC World Service in English and BBC language services through shortwave radio for an impartial news service. And the audiences remain high; last year the World Service radio audience was 154.5 million. The largest shortwave markets are West Africa, Central Africa and across

FRY, continued on page 6 ❱

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


❱ FUTURE, continued from page 4

tunes into local commercial radio every week, according to the Radiocentre survey, but for the small commercial stations, the struggle is really uphill. Local stations equate targeted advertising, and the coverage area and targeted population are generally tiny with proportionate revenue. Often, the importance of these stations is in inverse proportion to their budgets. What’s more, these local radio stations are now facing the challenge of migrating to digital. At one point there was a scenario in which the big players could go digital, while the smaller stations were to remain anchored to the familiar invention of 1933 — FM. This scenario has become less acceptable in 2018, however, and other solutions are now being tested. Digital Radio Mondiale, for example, has a local coverage solution able to work in the FM band and also in the same Band III used by DAB+. In addition, small-scale DRM, or local coverage DRM, allows for possible upgrading of existing infrastructure, and, therefore, reasonable associated costs. Small-scale DRM has been tested in India, Brazil, Indonesia, Germany, Italy, Russia, Pakistan and South Africa. Small-scale DAB is also being tested in various locations relative to coverage area, spectrum savings and listener acceptability. There are options for local stations if (and when) they want or can go digital, and it is our job to help ease the transition of these very much needed small, local stations. This raises the question of the availability of multi-standard receivers and their associated costs. Many professionals are working toward achieving a solution and great strides have been made in recent months. But for some, two standards mean more work, more costs and more headaches. Let me assure you, however, that while it’s true it takes time and investment to obtain positive results, like with mostly everything, the “negative” information some would like us to believe is, in fact, just “fake news.” n

United Kingdom, radio is the frontrunner when it comes to trust for most Europeans. It is notably ahead of both TV and the internet, with just one in three EU citizens saying he or she trusts the internet. Local radio is not lacking in challenges, however. Often, what we value most about it is also the least tangible. The CEO of the U.K. commercial radio industry group Radiocentre said, on the back of its recent survey, “Breaking News: How Listeners Value Commercial Radio News,” which finds radio to be the U.K.’s most trusted medium, that “in the case of local information, news updates, community and charity appeals … this contribution is not always acknowledged or understood.”

Being local also means radio stations are often small and have few resources, even when they are part of national and powerful broadcasting networks.

So localism, the embodiment of what makes radio unique, is like a vitamin, something that is good for us, that we need more of in the fight against ignorance and malicious fake news. But being local also means radio stations are often small and have few resources, even when they are part of national and powerful broadcasting networks. If the broadcaster is public, then their future is somehow guaranteed, though they are under continuous examination and financial consideration. It is true that about 50 percent of the U.K. population

and images, to complement programs offering thus an enhanced experience to the listener. Recommended by ITU, DRM digital broadcasting has been proven to work excellently in the shortwave and medium-wave bands. These bands remain key for international broadcasting delivering services without constraints of local “gatekeepers,” in our case allowing millions of people access to BBC News content free of charge. The radio markets are still there, the need for good quality audio with data enhancements is there. The BBC is keen to exploit DRM in order to deliver, to key markets, BBC content free of gatekeepers in a form that can be accessed easily. n

❱ FRY, continued from page 5

areas could be covered and the support costs considerably reduced. Where medium-wave frequencies and sites exist, multi-channel (therefore multi-language, too) DRM broadcasts can be offered at improved quality, with reduced energy bills and running costs. Unlike analog, DRM allows one frequency to be used repeatedly for the same service over a large area (a single-frequency network), making more efficient use of the spectrum. DRM can transform the quality of the services on the AM bands to be clear and free of any of the interference and distortion. DRM provides text information

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018



Serving the Broadcast Equipment and Receiver Industry BROADCAST EQUIPMENT – Fraunhofer DRM ContentServer™ for audio encoding, data service management and multiplexing – DRM Monitoring Receiver DT700 for on-air signal monitoring and recording DRM RECEIVER SOFTWARE AND COMPONENTS – DRM Chip Set and Receiver IP for SDR (Software-Defined Radio) – Encoder and Decoder software modules for audio (incl. xHE-AAC), data services, protocols, signalling and others – NewsService Journaline core decoder kit – Ready to use DRM MultimediaPlayer Radio App (Windows, iOS, Linux, Android) including baseband and service layer decoding SOLUTIONS FOR EFFICIENT RECEIVER DEVELOPMENT – Fraunhofer Developer Solution (AM + VHF bands):

Fraunhofer DRM ContentServer™ – flexible and full-featured DRM multiplex generation for a complete test coverage & DRM Test Equipment DT230 for lab on-air signal generation and channel simulation – DCPServer Professional for an easy handling of DRM multiplex recordings

Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS Digital Broadcasting Phone +49 9131 776-6175 amm-info@iis.fraunhofer.de www.iis.fraunhofer.de/broadcast

Convergence: Opportunity or Dead End Digital radio can be a part of intelligent convergence if we give it a chance

By Ruxandra Obreja


I was recently invited to chair a “convergence and digital radio” session at an international “Asia meets Europe” conference held in Romania. When I asked the audience how often they had sat through such sessions in the past years, almost everyone in the audience raised their hand. When I asked them to define convergence in two or three words, there was no rush. As a notion, digital convergence has been around for at least 40 years. Nicholas Negroponte, the MIT guru, defined it some decades ago as being all about bits, or rather bits and bytes. Simply put, most of us understand digital convergence as combining multiple (digital) technologies into one.

This showed us that old media (TV and radio) couldn’t be entirely replaced by the internet or new media. At the same time, though, old media would not be able to survive in its splendid analog isolation. Many thought radio was primed for a big fall to all things internet. But this did not happen and in the process the medium gained an aura of great resilience, which is still strong today, despite the new threat from digital services. Paradoxically, radio has always had inherent convergent attributes. Radio creates VR or AR in the mind; it is immersive (you can get lost in the story); it can be localized, even personalized; and it uses (real, not artificial) intelligence as it builds on the greatest of all media ingredients: storytelling. But in the new converged world, the younger — and not so young — listener or consumer is used to being part of the story, to engage and interact. And analog radio cannot satisfy this newly acquired necessity. It is true that not everything one hears on the radio needs to be reacted to, voted on or shared. It also means that there is a new relationship between being passively entertained and actively engaged, impossible without “the bits and bytes.” Digital convergence in 2017 is a fusion between new and old media with digital radio as part of the mix. Radio is no longer just in the audio business but can produce long-form text, use internet material, supplement the audio with pictures and even carry short live video (in DRM this is called Diveemo), satisfying the need for

When I asked the audience to define convergence in two or three words, there was a wave of silence.

At first glance digital, converged technology allows 2.4 billion people to have instant access to the world’s knowledge, mainly on their smartphone, the ultimate converged “black box.” Others say that it is much more than that: a process, a new way of understanding and engaging with the world. Digital convergence is part of a much-repeated set of labels that also includes phrases like the digital revolution, virtual reality, augmented reality, hybrid reality, artificial intelligence and so many more. It is a label but also part of a reality in which Generation Z (those born after 1995) are using digital formats at the expense of traditional radio (at least in the United States). The idea of digital convergence did take a knock however when the dot-com bubble burst in the late 1990s.

CONVERGENCE, continued on page 10 ❱

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


DRM Emergency Warning Functionality Saves Lives In times of distaster, it’s mandatory to reach the entire population


who don’t speak the local language. Digital Radio Mondiale can round off the established set of national tools for early warning dissemination. Radio receivers have long been a core component of warning systems worldwide. Receivers can be battery-, solar- or wind-up powered, and transmission infrastructure is both easily secured against power losses and can reach the affected area from outside. Radio transmissions are often the last way to maintain contact with people in heavily hit areas, when local power, cell and TV towers are gone.

By Alexander Zink The author is senior business development manager for Digital Radio and Streaming Applications at Fraunhofer IIS. When disasters are about to strike, getting the message to everyone affected as quickly as possible is of the utmost importance. Technical solutions need to be able to meet specific requirements for this and ensure reliability, even when the local infrastructure is down. In addition, everybody in a disaster area needs to be reachable, even people with impairments or visitors

ZINK, continued on page 10 ❱

The diagram shows how DRM’s Emergency Warning Functionality works during emergencies.

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


hearing impaired, as well as travellers who don’t speak the local language through its multilingual support. Journaline also carries an exact description of the affected area to limit unwanted receiver switching. On a technical level, implementing EWF functionality into any DRM receiver is not complicated, because EWF is a combination of standard functionalities that need to be supported by any DRM receiver. It combines DRM’s alarm announcement and alternative frequency signaling and switching (AFS) with audio decoding and Journaline presentation. There is very little manufacturers need to do for the receiver to be EWF compliant. Mainly, they just need to ensure the receiver is equipped with an automatic volume increase and visual alarm indication. To ensure that the automatic receiver wake-up functionality will be available on the widest possible set of DRM receivers in a country, regulators are encouraged to mandate this element in addition to general DRM EWF support as part of a policy for the receiver and automotive industry. On the transmission side, all modern DRM encoder and multiplexer solutions today support EWF natively. To issue alarm signaling (typically triggered by a national authority) and to provide core information in audio and textual form to the DRM multiplexers for immediate playout, many countries rely on the commonly deployed Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) protocol, or its enhanced derivatives such as the Modular Warning System (MoWaS) standard in Germany. n

❱ ZINK, continued from page 9


DRM’s support for Emergency Warning Functionality allows digital radio sets to automatically switch from the current service to the emergency program when needed, and even automatically switch on the emergency program when on standby. In addition, the volume is increased and the emergency state is visually indicated (e.g. through a flashing screen or LED). In an emergency, a DRM digital radio set can wake up its user and provide the required information. The same is true for cars and mobile phones: Alerts and information will reach you even if the car radio is off or when your mobile phone is disconnected from the internet. The emergency program via DRM consists of the audio announcement (e.g. a quickly repeated headline in a single language) plus accompanying text information based on the standardized Journaline service component, a core DRM element. The structured text feature allows users to look up relevant information on the device’s screen much quicker and in more detail than what would be available over audio channels. This enhanced information can include locations and descriptions of shelters sorted by region, contact details of public authorities, or general advice for before, during and after the event. The information can be dynamically updated and enhanced at any time as the situation evolves. In addition, Journaline is designed to reach the ❱ CONVERGENCE, continued from page 8

you need for that? Probably no smartphone, 4G or IP will wipe out direct terrestrial broadcasting to car radios, the standalone receivers and, one day, mobiles with incorporated digital radio. It will just add to the many ways in which interesting digital content reaches the listener. Convergence and aggregation at the level of content must be doubled by varied and appropriate digital distribution channels. There is not one single black box or one single cable or wave that is cheap, converged and ready to solve all the ambitions of broadcasters or users. The sooner broadcasters begin to implement convergence where it works and stop trying to converge at any price, the better. At the end of the conference session held in September, we concluded that convergence was new and old woven with intelligence in new creative ways. We must hurry, though, as, according to Negroponte, “biotech is the new digital” and we are soon to ingest our information. I, personally, am not ready to swallow my radio yet. n

depth and raising curiosity. Now how about the one single digital device presenting this diverse, digital content? The idea of the unique and magic black box has already been proven wrong. Digital radio can be delivered through digital TV but at a high cost. Digital TV cannot fully replace radio, while it can carry it as part of its bouquet of digital channels. Besides, have you ever thought of carrying your huge plasma TV in the shower to listen to the morning show? We can get emails on the phone but still use a laptop with full internet and email features. Other better boxes complement the one “black box.” While digital radio incorporated in mobiles but delivered terrestrially remains a dream, digital radio delivered through the mobile networks is just a digital and money waste. Mobile streaming has an astronomical price tag when compared with the average cost of digital terrestrial broadcasting. A DRM transmitter, for example, can cover up to thousands of kilometers. How many cell phones do

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


Commercial Stations’ Digital Dilemma Why are they so attached to FM? By Ruxandra Obreja

as the BBC and, more recently, in Norway by NRK. For them digital is very effective, especially for national coverage. In the U.S., the regulator (i.e., the FCC) mandated a U.S.-invented and owned digital solution that has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm by the FM and AM stations. Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM), the latest digital radio standard, was first devised as a clear-sound, multi-service replacement for AM.

For many commercial stations, the dollar sign still shines brightly on the radio screen. Radio advertising revenue is continuing to grow in the United States, United Kingdom and many parts of the world. In the U.S., radio is the third most powerful medium reaching over half the population daily. The advertising revenue for the country’s more than 10,000 AM and FM commercial stations was a staggering $14.71 billion in 2015. A good chunk, but still under a billion was delivered by online advertising linked to the radio output. Even in India, where there are under 300 commercial FM stations, with just another 400 run by the public broadcaster, the projection is a 10 percent increase in advertising revenue this year compared with 2016. Radio, our good, local, intimate friend, at home or in the car, is ubiquitous. Advertisers like the medium’s simplicity, the fact that they can target their messages locally. Its well-crafted words and jingles establish a clear personal connection that works. Radio does not depend on internet or even electricity. In the 1970s, FM was a revelation and, in many countries (including the U.S.), together with medium wave, FM was and is doing very well, still. However, FM is spectrum- and energy-hungry. There is this idea that, once you have invested in the infrastructure, are broadcasting a decent program and have lined up some advertisers with deep pockets, you are “made.” After all, you are selling air or airtime, a very nice and cheap commodity and the business model is simple and well tested. In parallel, in the last 10 to 15 years, the inventors and promoters of digital radio have tried to introduce a better, digital version of radio with energy and spectrum savings and more services and advantages. In Europe, 25 years ago, public broadcasters carried the baton. DAB/ DAB+ was promoted and introduced by big players such

The commercial radio sector has, in general, been less enthusiastic about getting involved in the digital journey. DRM for medium wave and shortwave is being rolled out in India, where its signal already reaches 600 million people. Six years ago, a second DRM mode that works for all VHF bands was introduced. It has been tested thoroughly on all continents (currently in South Africa). Pakistan is introducing it, but the driver is again the public broadcaster. The commercial radio sector, however, has been less enthusiastic about being involved in the digital journey. Why is this? Because FM works for them. In some parts of the world, like Africa and India, FM is still the new kid on the block. Not all the features of digital radio are known or appreciated. Digital radio requires knowledge, a new business model, investment, effort, passion and new affordable receivers. Commercial players, focused on “the here and now,” know that their main requirement is to deliver increasing revenue and maintain their advertising share COMMERCIAL, continued on page 14 ❱

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


Part of the 2-megawatt Nautel system at Antenna Hungaria. Shown from left to right are two of the five NX400 transmitters and the 2,000 kW combiner. On the extreme right is part of the original 40-year-old, custom-built, vacuum-tube-based transmitter.

DRM Goes Big on Two Continents Antenna Hungaria and All India Radio update infrastructure with Nautel By Wendell Lonergan

transmission facility near Solt, Hungary. Claiming to be the most powerful medium-wave broadcaster in Europe, Antenna Hungaria chose Nautel to replace a 40-year-old, custom-built vacuum-tube-based transmitter. The project involved large infrastructure changes at the site as well as installation of the new transmitter. Nautel personnel procured and managed the logistics of all third-party equipment from six countries; infrastructure updates, installation and commissioning were completed in 16 months. Nautel’s 2-megawatt transmitter comprises five solid-state NX400 transmitters and a 2,000 kW combiner feeding a single antenna. Building the world’s first 2,000 kW combiner gave Nautel’s engineers a design challenge they say they “tackled with enthusiasm.” The result was the new NXC2000 combiner, which can be reconfigured if one or more transmitters

The author is head of broadcast sales for Nautel. He is also sales manager, Europe and Russia Two large broadcasters, one in Hungary and one in India, have recently adopted the Digital Radio Mondiale digital radio standard. Antenna Hungaria and All India Radio are now broadcasting in DRM to nearly 1 billion listeners, thanks to infrastructure updates using Nautel MW transmitters. In November 2017, a 2-megawatt, DRM-enabled Nautel transmitter went on the air at Antenna Hungaria’s

NAUTEL, continued on page 15 ❱

More of the Antenna Hungaria 2-megawatt system. Transmitters shown from left to right are the 2,000 kW combiner and three of the five NX400 transmitters with 6-inch hard lines shown above.

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


Digital: Catch All or Step by Step? What is the best and surest way to digitize radio? by Ruxandra Obreja

broadcasting. And there are also different possible digitization models. Is it better to start in the big cities and then digitally colonize the rest of the country? Or should we go for complete country coverage (big city and small Digital Radio Mondiale demonstrates DRM digital radio in a car village in one go) using during the BES conference in India. existing AM and VHF capabilities? Each option seems to have its merits. If you start with the big cities, you can show some quick wins, as the number of listeners will be good and advertising, read “revenues,” will be healthy, too. The disadvantage is that, as you are trying to spread the digital jam all over the country, every new percentage in coverage or listeners’ number becomes increasingly expensive. Unless there is some substantial government intervention and support, or some other more economical, easier to implement solution, some communities might remain digital outcasts.

Digital radio standards celebrate different milestones, as they are at different stages of their life and development. DAB is 21, HD Radio was born in 2001 and Digital Radio Mondiale has just become a teenager, with 2003 as its birth year. But digital radio as a whole is still in its formative years. As demonstrated during the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) General Assembly, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) General Assembly in October, as well as at various African events, many developing countries are just starting to focus on radio digitization. Many administrations have quickly discovered that digitizing radio is not simple, as there is no clear and “juicy” digital dividend at the end of the process. Unlike digital TV, where there is a standard consensus, in radio there are different options and models, not to speak of a perceived competition between standards. Then IP, or even DTT, are sometimes thrown into the mix and touted as possible replacements for terrestrial ❱ COMMERCIAL, continued from page 12

They simply want their audio wherever they are and whenever they are not using other platforms. And while radio advertising revenue might be holding up, listening time on analog gradually is decreasing. Between 2013 and 2107 radio listening in the U.K. has dropped approximately 10 percent. Research shows that a successful commercial station that stands still for up to five years is doomed. Change might mean new formats, new presenters, new streaming and online “bells and whistles” but also new technology and investment in digital broadcasting. Digital is not the enemy but an acquaintance ready to turn into a friend and ally. Fortunately, some commercial broadcasters have applied this strategy. The latest official figures in the U.K. show that — thanks to digital — for the first time in nearly a century of radio broadcasting, commercial radio has overtaken the BBC. As we say in DRM, digital delivers! n

in a crowded market with few spaces for newcomers. The 100-kHz bandwidth delivers two to three audio channels and one data channel in DRM for local coverage on VHF, instead of the current single FM program. When compared to FM, this results in less spectrum usage, a lower electricity bill, the same or better coverage, more channels for more content and advertising slots, as well as capacity, to sublet to newcomers and increase revenue. Commercial operators are cautious and watching all experiments very carefully. They will not invest in new technologies unless the benefits are clear. Often, they expect the government, or other broadcasters, to offer incentives in the form of money and licensing advantages, doubled by a clean digital switchover decisions. In this equation only the listeners are the unknown and unpredictable element. They do not care if a big multiplex is expensive or that radio can save spectrum.

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


age. India has done it as 600 million people are covered by digital signals. But, even there, the fine-tuning of the transmissions and the content enhancement is just beginning. It is a project that needs to involve journalists, planners, advertisers, the industry and listeners in its next stage. So, wholesale or piecemeal? The easy answer could be: It depends. If you want to offer digital radio to 2 million Slovenes, perhaps going concentrically is acceptable. If you want to do the same with over 1 billion people or even in a country with a population of more than 100 million spread over a large territory, the decision may be different. The path taken depends on a lot of criteria, budgets, political resolve and might go one way or another or be a combination of the two, which is just fine. However, beyond technologies, what must underpin such a decision is the answer to a much deeper question: Are all citizens entitled to the same services, regardless of whether they live in big cities, small towns or on islands? Is each government ready to treat everyone equally, even if this might take money and time? There are no easy answers, but then digital radio is quickly becoming an adult, leaving its teenage years behind. This, of course, brings with it responsibilities and — hopefully — the ability to make responsible decisions. n

The big challenge is not how to start digitizing but how to bring it to a successful conclusion in a reasonable period. This is the experience in the United Kingdom, where DAB is finally well established but at a cost, after a false start. This hard work is not rewarded yet with a switch-off date, though it might not be so far away. The incremental coverage has an impact on the car industry, too. If a country does not have large, continuous and demonstrable digital coverage, the city dwellers will be easily disappointed once they jump in their cars and start on their journey to go see grandma in the smaller town or village. As a DRM proponent, I see the decision to ensure good and complete coverage of a territory as the better solution. Even so, this has its own pitfalls and challenges. AM digitization can offer total coverage at a stroke. However, AM is, for some less informed people, an old-fashioned analog solution with poor sound and high energy costs. The truth is that digital AM is a different proposition that delivers perfect, FM, or better than FM sound, with energy savings of up to 60 to 80 percent. And of course, DRM has also a good, FM-band digitization solution. But then the receiver question arises, though these digital receivers clearly are appearing. It is also certain that no matter what standard is involved, receivers will not be produced if there are no digital signals on air. And if there are plenty of receivers, but patchy digitization, then those receivers won’t sell. For governments and stakeholders to take a wholesale decision and to implement digital radio for the good of all the citizens in a country is a big act of faith and cour-

❱ NAUTEL, continued from page 13

are shut down, ensuring that maximum power is always delivered to the antenna. According to Nautel, the NX2000 system brings efficiency — 90 percent AC-to-RF — and “significant power savings” to an operation that had been running at only 55 to 60 percent efficiency with its older equipment. Control and monitoring are accomplished via Nautel’s Advanced User Interface. On the Asian continent, India’s All India Radio recently added to the most extensive DRM transmission project in the world, expanding its high-power MW broadcasts to 33 facilities across the country. With the goal of bringing digital radio to nearly a billion residents of India, Prasar Bharati and Nautel’s in-country partner Comcon installed DRM-enabled transmitters ranging from 100 kW to 300 kW in power. Nautel says the transition from analog to digital broadcasting has allowed AIR to use alternate platforms such as podcasting, SMS, webcasting and mobile services and has enabled a 24-hour news channel along with other programming. AIR continues to add services to its operation. n

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


The Potential of DRM Datacasting A cost-effective solution for distributing special application data


satellite, mobile). Furthermore, many existing analog transmitters can efficiently be upgraded to digital transmission, enabling the opportunity to create new markets. In the following several applications of datacasting, the technical solution as well as various experiences from the field are described.

By Jens Schroeder The author is managing director for RFmondial. Digital radio transmissions can be used as an efficient and cost effective solution for providing data services to single users, specific regions or vast areas. In this context, the DRM system can be seen as a point-to-multipoint digital data channel, called DRM datacasting. There are several reasons why DRM broadcasting can be the technology of choice. These include:


The main advantage of DRM datacasting lies in its exploitation of the inherent broadcasting concept, i.e. providing data that serve many customers. In the maritime context, nautical and weather data, safety information, but also general data like training material or infotainment can be transmitted. For maritime and landline applications, the provision of differential GNSS information is necessary for high-precision localization information. Farming, marine navigation, offshore construction, autonomous driving and others can benefit from receiving the differential information via DRM. Further examples for datacasting are digital signage as well as energy load management and street lighting control. A direct integration of DRM with relevant standards (e.g. ECDIS, GRIB, AIS, RTCM) has been proven to be applicable. Of course, audio can always be transmitted in parallel to the data channels.


DRM broadcasting can simply be cheaper than a dedicated satellite link: A BGAN 64 kbps stream with a net data rate of approximately 40 kbps results in costs of about US$5 per minute per reception. DRM shortwave with a guaranteed bitrate of 40 kbps costs approximately $5 per minute as well; however, the signal can be received by all receivers within the service area and increases the profitability the more receivers are involved, e.g. for naval fleets. SERVICE AREA

As satellite data services are rarely available at high latitudes, DRM transmission can be the only service, which can provide data links to these areas. Furthermore, in many cases where no satellite antennas can be installed due to technical or esthetic reasons on the reception site (e.g. sailing boats), shortwave antennas are already present.


As DRM has been developed with such applications in mind, the technical implementation is straightforward. The desired data can either be integrated in one of the existing data services like Journaline or Slideshow or be sent via a transparent IP-channel. If desired, the transmission can be encrypted including a conditional access for single users and groups. DRM furthermore provides a fully integrated disaster and early warning service called Emergency Warning Functionality (EWF).


DRM transmitter infrastructure can be self-operated from a friendly location. Nevertheless, any area worldwide can be reached from such a station, without being dependent on a third-party infrastructure operator (e.g.

DATACASTING, continued on page 18 ❱

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018




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A typical DRM datacasting setup for a maritime application providing weather and maps to a fleet of ships.

❱ DATACASTING, continued from page 16

sea ice stage), NAVTEX, Marine Safety Information (MSI) Bulletins, NOAA data buoy, and Automated Identification System (AIS), Application Specific Messages (ASM), virtual aids to navigation, along with the latest news and sports. The received data is both integrated into the vessel’s Electronic Chart System (ECS) and provided in a browser-based application. The participants are excited to read the latest news and weather forecast on their cell phones without having to utilize expensive satellite links. If successful, the USCG will investigate bringing the system in operation.

After receiving and decoding the DRM signal, the data are available via standard interfaces (e.g. Wi-Fi, LAN, serial) and can be connected to the respective application. The illustration above shows a typical setup for providing nautical data to a fleet of ships. DRM DATACASTING IN THE FIELD

Various applications have already been implemented, others are under investigation. Some examples are listed in the following, technically supported by Media Broadcast, Fraunhofer, and RFmondial: •C  rew infotainment on several frigates of the German Navy as well as on a cruise ship passing the Northwest Passage and a cargo vessel from Hamburg (Germany) to Shanghai (China) • Data transmission with the German Navy for submarines •D  ifferential GPS on DRM long- and shortwave in Germany for farming and autonomous driving A trial project is being conducted by the United States Coast Guard (USCG), investigating the Next Generation Arctic Navigational Safety Information System (ANSIS) using existing infrastructure transmitting to the Northwest Passage. A wide range of information is broadcast such as detailed weather maps (e.g. current, surface, wind), ice maps (e.g. daily


DRM datacasting is a powerful option for providing cost-effective data services for a variety of special applications, which benefit from the point-to-multipoint capability of modern digital long-, medium- and shortwave transmissions. n

Screenshots of the USCG trial are shown. Pictured left is the ECS system. At right is the browser-based application.

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


Listeners Want Choice, Possibilities Digital has to be flexible and dynamic to follow consumers’ shifting taste and offer innovative content By Ruxandra Obreja


When digital radio was launched — in some cases before the internet took a foothold — its main selling point was excellent digital audio quality. Today, however, it is the combination of services digital radio offers that makes it attractive to consumers. Digital radio has had trouble catching the listeners’ imagination or making large enough strides to meaningfully replace analog. The reasons are many. These include no digital dividend, increased costs during the simulcast (analog-digital) transition period and, sometimes, simply resistance to the multiplex option. Furthermore, the initial lack of interest from the car industry, no new innovative content and hazy messaging have not helped matters. After all, FM is ubiquitous, resilient and offers abundant and cheap receivers. Listeners don’t care if FM isn’t spectrum-efficient, has limited coverage and can be costly, while still cheaper than being part of a digital multiplex. Generally, listeners think FM audio quality is good enough, if what is on offer is attractive to them. Promoters of digital radio have to be very clear and compelling in their messages about the benefits of completing the digital migration. These advantages will be different for broadcasters (energy efficiencies and more valued added services), regulators (spectrum savings), the industry (new products with the multi-standard receiver having the opportunity of being sold in billions) and then the listeners. We often hear that digital offers more choice. But what does choice mean? For some it signifies more music and niche stations. Digital certainly allows for experimentation. One-day pop-up stations are a fantastic opportunity to promote an event or attract young people to radio and radio journalism.

According to annual figures published by the United Kingdom regulator, Ofcom, 16- to 24-year-olds spent 29 percent of their audio listening time tuning in to live radio in 2015, compared with 71 percent for all adults. And the general listening time per week has fallen in a decade by five hours from 20 to 15. All this despite “more choice” but also while radio is trying to keep its place among a number of proliferating platforms, fully embraced by the younger generation. So it looks like young people do have more choice, but they are also more selective. Studies prove that their parents are not very different, either. The interesting part of the recent Ofcom data is that in 2016, between April and June (in the pre-Brexit period), U.K. listeners of all ages flocked to the main BBC speech channel, the news and sport channel and the new music one. These are not exclusively digital channels. The figures show that listeners have shifting allegiances and that when there is a big news story they want context. When they want music they want something different and new. Digital has to be flexible enough to follow the shifting taste and offer something amazing. It needs to enhance the audio with extra information, pictures and data to satisfy the curiosity of the new selective listeners. Just duplicating analog in digital is not enough. But how many people know that one’s digital radio

CHOICE,continued on page 20 ❱

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


DRM Advances Around the World As India pursues rollout, other countries continue to test the standard By Radu Obreja

development within the Southern Africa Development Community. The Communications Regulator Association of Southern Africa has analyzed and concluded that DRM can help broadcasters enhance their programs and disseminate news, education and entertainment in the best sound quality. During 2017, the first DRM tests for local coverage on the African continent were carried out by community radio station Koffifi FM in VHF Band II in Johannesburg. Radio Pulpit, located in Pretoria, conducted a medium-wave DRM test in 2015 and 2016 and submitted the results to the ITU. In Europe, Russia has organized several trials in AM and most recently in VHF on Band II. Officials in the country say they are interested in assessing how DRM can be deployed in large cities and in areas in the north. On the receiver side, there has been major progress. India-based Avion Electronics Inc. now manufactures a DRM receiver, and an important step has been made in the development of Software Defined Radio, based on Android and available on tablets, which can be implemented in receivers globally. United States-based Titus SDR Inc. is working on such a product. In addition, Chinese firm Gospell has developed a multi-standard DRM receiver, which also supports the DRM Emergency Warning Functionality. As regards in-car advances, in India — and thanks to the swift DRM rollout there — the automotive industry has begun to introduce cars with line-fit DRM receivers. Brands that offer models with DRM receivers include Hyundai, Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra. More car brands are currently working on placing DRM receivers in their cars. n

Digital Radio Mondiale has recently made significant advances worldwide, in Asia specifically, it has made great strides. In India, for example, the world’s largest DRM rollout is taking place. The country’s public broadcaster, All India Radio, has deployed and commissioned 35 medium-wave and four shortwave transmitters nationwide. AIR broadcasts in simulcast as well as in pure DRM and is estimated to reach some 600 million people. In addition, Pakistan’s public broadcaster Pakistan Broadcasting Corp. installed a transmitter at its headquarters in Islamabad in 2017 and began testing DRM for local coverage on VHF. The broadcaster says it is also considering using DRM in the AM Band. Finally, from 2015 to 2017, Indonesia’s Radio Republik Indonesia tested DRM in AM and FM for local and large, regional coverage. In other parts of the world, 15 countries in Southern Africa are cooperating on social, political and media ❱ CHOICE, continued from page 19

(DAB or DRM) not only provides good audio but can also offer content in several languages (as demonstrated on DRM receivers), pictures of albums, singers, politicians, and sports people, information feeds from the internet, stock exchange data, health, weather, emergency information and so much more? The choice is there and listeners would be interested — if they knew about it. Rather than promote individual standards or receiver brands, digital radio needs to become synonymous with relevant and special content. This undertaking costs money, but until digital content becomes attractive enough to listeners they might just choose to stick with FM. n

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


Digital Radio Mondiale for Local Coverage DRM allows for green and efficient solutions in the FM band with extra benefits and revenue By Ruxandra Obreja and Alexander Zink Ruxandra Obreja is DRM chairman. Alexander Zink is senior business development manager for Digital Radio and Streaming Applications at Fraunhofer IIS. Radio’s main attribute remains its localism. The Digital Radio Mondiale Standard can be used in all frequency bands (in the AM and VHF bands) with the same features and benefits, such as extra capacity to carry additional programs, free text news, traffic and emergency warning information. The DRM mode in the VHF bands above LOCAL, continued on page 22 �

The FM spectrum in Batam after the FM transmitter at 105.1 MHz was converted to DRM/FM simulcast operation.

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❱ LOCAL, continued from page 21

30 MHz (including the widely used FM band), sometimes referred to as “DRM+,” has been recommended by the ITU since 2011 and tested on all continents. It is tailored for local coverage (large and small cities), as well as regional coverage. Within the bandwidth of a single analog FM program, two DRM transmissions (96 kHz each) with a total of six audio programs plus multimedia applications can be broadcast. Just like the established FM transmissions in the past, DRM maintains broadcaster-controlled transmissions, targeting groups of listeners in a specific area in their own language. The predicted coverage area of the digital DRM portion (at about 200 W) of the DRM/ By migrating to DRM, broadcasters FM simulcast. can enhance the current analog transmissions in the VHF band II (i.e. the FM band) without one of the high-power FM transmitters to DRM simulcast interrupting the ongoing and still revenue-generating operation with a small plug-in module. analog FM services. As recent trials have demonstrated, The conclusion of RRI’s Batam trial is that DRM does DRM services can be successfully between high-power not interfere with the nearby FM transmissions, is specanalog FM services in situations where the FM band trum and power efficient and can enhance the capacity seemed completely full. Thanks to DRM’s simulcast of the FM band even where it seems fully occupied. The capability to broadcast analog FM and digital DRM serfull report can be found here. vices simultaneously from the same transmitter, existing Another DRM demonstration in the FM band took place broadcast infrastructure can cost-efficiently be upgradin Johannesburg in 2017 by the Kofifi community FM staed, and broadcasters stay in full control of their own tion. Two programs plus a community oriented Journaline broadcast infrastructure (studios, transmitters, antennas) service were carried on the 97.2 kHz frequency. without having to rely on third-party multiplex services. The technical objectives to acquire evidence of no The most recent tests of DRM for local coverage have interference with adjacent FM channels and evaluate taken place in South Africa and Indonesia. After having the propagation characteristics have thus far been sucverified DRM’s performance in the medium-wave band, cessfully achieved. Measurements confirmed a similar the public Indonesian broadcaster RRI tested DRM for or better service availability than FM reception without local coverage in simulcast mode in the FM Band II on the interference. It was demonstrated that the existing FM island of Batam, just opposite Singapore, after upgrading spectrum can accommodate a larger number of additional DRM channels (with up to three programs each) without impacting existing analog stations. A draft report can be read here. FM broadcasters realize that to keep up with modern digital media and to secure their audiences and revenues in the future, they need to innovate while bringing down costs. DRM is the right tool for a smooth transition from analog FM services to digital offerings for a modern listenership; thus DRM also allows broadcasters to tap into new revenue sources. n The actual measured coverage.

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


Podcast, Broadcast or Simulcast? Is costly internet access for many users worldwide hindering accessibility to new platforms? By Ruxandra Obreja On a recent trip to Nigeria, I had the chance to meet many well-informed professionals. One young man who works for a multi-national company told me that his data plan, which allows him access to the internet on a mobile, exceeds the country’s average monthly salary. When I asked him how young people in Nigeria obtain news, he explained that it was common for them to listen to the radio in the morning and then go to the internet later in the day for only a few minutes (to avoid reaching the monthly limit) to get updates. They subsequently disseminate the most important news via WhatsApp or Twitter to those who don’t have internet access at all. This is just one example of why radio and terrestrial broadcasting may not be as endangered as some would like to make us believe. The internet, mobiles and all the new platforms are popular, disruptive, even sometimes addictive; but they cannot fully replace radio or TV. In fact, radio is still the top source of information across 36 African countries, according to Afrobarometre, with about half of the population using radio as the primary information source, even if daily usage is not increasing in some countries and decreasing in a few. Radio listening in the United Kingdom is on the increase, and radio advertising in India demonstrated an uptrend in 2015. So, it appears a little premature to eliminate breakfast radio from one’s phone to make place for Spotify. While a narrative on the way all things related to broadband (including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, radio-free dashboards in cars) is taking over the world and may turn heads, the fact of the matter is that, according to Edison Research, FM/AM radio is still being used by 84 percent of motorists in the United States, while only 21 percent listen to the radio online. There is a lot of data predicting rising levels of data usage by the mobile industry. But how valid is this information? We are told that for the BBC, for instance, distribution over the internet is predicted to be on par but not to overtake the airwaves before circa 2027.

Pictured from left are Ruxandra Obreja, DRM Consortium chairman; George Ross, TWR Media Services account executive; and Alexander Zink, senior business development manager at Fraunhofer IIS and vice chair, DRM Consortium.

Radio is here to stay, and the cyclical announcements and debates about its demise are highly exaggerated, while, of course, they shouldn’t be ignored. The medium needs to invest in its strong points and go digital in order to enrich the same great qualities that have always defined it — portability, immediacy, quality, adaptability and innovation — with the added choice of multimedia options. Take the example of India, where DRM is delivered to nearly 50 percent of the population and listeners now have access to additional programs and music, when before they had a limited selection. FM today cannot offer this same choice, nor can the approximately 1 billion Indian mobiles on the market. While the availability of digital receivers is still a challenge, how great it would be if listeners could access this new content on mobiles free of charge and not via expensive data plans? In the U.K. it is possible for listeners to get all the radio, television and online services the BBC provides for as little as just under US$1. But that is, unfortunately, only the exception. Giant steps still need to be taken in order to offer the equivalent in other parts of the world. n

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018


A Streamlined Approach to DRM Receiver Design Software defined radio turns digital radio reception into an application


In some cases, it makes sense to optimize the software for processor families to reduce the overall system power and extend battery lifetime. Still, the well-tested and field-proven software that encapsulates all digital radio functionality can easily be ported to the next generation of hardware. Existing products can be enhanced to support future functional upgrades or even completely new radio standards. Especially in the production chain of car radio systems, the selection of the final software components, which are typically dependent on the target market and required feature set, can be carried out at the end of the production line. This prevents the time-consuming need to swap hardware components, or the costs involved with provisioning multiple hardware options. Even after the shipment of a car to the customer, the radio system can be upgraded with latest features over the vehicle’s extensive lifetime. In consumer radios, the SDR technology offers the possibility to implement multiple radio standards on the same hardware. This allows for a low-cost hardware production on a mass scale, even if the devices need to support different radio standards in different markets. Likewise, the addition of DRM functionality to existing hardware platforms has proven that the extra effort — and thus cost to support DRM on those products — is drastically reduced compared with new developments from scratch. In the current world of mobile phones, analog FM reception is a feature in several markets. It grants users access to latest information without the need for expensive data plans or mobile network coverage typically only found in big cities.

By Martin Speitel and Alexander Zink Martin Speitel is head of Infotainment Group at Fraunhofer IIS. Alexander Zink is senior business development manager for Digital Radio and Streaming Applications at Fraunhofer IIS. Software Defined Radio (SDR) turns the hardwired, task-specific and very elaborate chip development of the past into a flexible software-based design running on a generic, efficient and mass-produced hardware platform. It is not a new concept, but it is becoming a reality in more and more technical systems. Digital radio receivers are one major example for SDR technology, because

In consumer radios, the SDR technology offers the ability to implement multiple radio standards on the same hardware.

modern processor platforms offer enough computing power to build almost the complete radio functionality in software. ADVANTAGES

This approach offers great advantages for both the radio architecture itself and the companies developing and using the radio receiver technologies. The software development becomes widely decoupled of the hardware development. The selection of software vendors is independent of the providers of the underlying hardware platform.

DIGITAL RADIO MONDIALE DRIVES FORWARD Radio World International Edition | February 2018




This is particularly true for emerging markets in Asia, Africa and South America, which are of high interest to the industry due to their growth potential. For those markets, the addition of DRM reception in the FM band can easily be designed into upcoming phones as no hardware changes are required. Even DRM networks for large-area coverage in the AM bands are supported through USB plugins. Thanks to DRM’s SDR approach, digital radio reception effectively becomes an application — but one that is independent of IP traffic and mobile network infrastructure. This presents a major USP to mobile phone manufacturers, for whom it has become increasingly difficult to compete on other relevant features due to the uniformly deployed Android platform. In future, customers will quickly demand DRM digital radio support when selecting new phones the same way they demand analog FM support today. This is thanks to DRM’s free-to-air services with all their added-value features, such as Journaline advanced text services, EWF Emergency Warning

A screenshot of the Fraunhofer MultimediaPlayer radio app under Android, combining baseband decoding for DRM (AM and VHF bands), DAB(+), and analog AM and FM with a full-featured service layer decoder.

Functionality, and increased diversity of program offerings at a significantly improved quality. Finally, professional equipment, such as monitoring receivers, measurement systems or head-ends for in-house radio distribution, benefit greatly from SDR implementations, as they can constantly be upgraded to follow the latest standard upgrades and continuous feature enhancements. In summary, the SDR approach for digital radio reception helps bring down cost and at the same time speeds up the development of versatile and feature-rich radio receivers. Its benefits apply to all classes of receivers — from professional equipment to low-cost kitchen radios and mobile solutions. It enables manufacturers with flexibility and constantly growing maturity, which is hard to achieve with a traditional, hardware-centric radio architecture. The SDR approach is a key component for the availability of affordable and complete DRM radio sets and receiver solutions. n

February 2018

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Profile for Future PLC

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Digital Mondiale Drives Forward (Radio World International ebook) - February 2018