Digital Radio, or Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), uses a different signal to traditional Analogue radio and as such it can be transmitted to a much wider range of people than a normal analogue signal, the quality is almost much greater with clearer sound and easier navigation. It’s also much cheaper to broadcast.
Research on digital radios began in the 1980s, but it’s only recently that we’ve seen them in wider usage and have become more readily available. The development was headed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and they eventually made their first digital radio broadcast in 1995, and 15 years later in 2010 over 12 million digital radios have been sold and used.
This is all part of a growing project to switch all transmissions, TV included, to digital, and there have been a number of stations introduced that can only be accessed on a DAB Digital radio; there’s even a DAB+ radio service which is like the radio version of HD Television. DAB+ offers better quality broadcasting at a much lower bit rate than standard DAB Digital radios.
As of 2010, over 30 countries around the world use digital radio and the UK, China, Australia and Canada are the major ones, whilst some countries don’t use it at all. In the UK, roughly 85% of the country is covered by the digital radio signal, which works by having the digital signals sent to transmitters which then send the signal out to surrounding areas. This works much better than analogue signals which are sent through radio waves and can often fail in built up or mountainous areas, or simply when there’s a bad storm going on in the area.
There are loads of benefits to digital radio, namely that the signal can’t be interrupted and you’re guaranteed to get the station you want when you switch it on. There’s also helpful information like the radio station and the title of the current song (or programme) that is playing on the station at that time, so if you hear something new you can check the screen to find out the name of it so you know to find it next time or try to find more songs by that artist. The opportunities are endless, and there are even options to bookmark your favourite stations.
By 2012, the UK is planning to switch off all their analogue signals, meaning that everyone will have to use digital for their radios and television sets and loads of other countries are slowly showing interest in the project, especially now we have DAB+ offering higher quality service for the masses.
The switch over is proving very expensive for the British Broadcasting Corporation, but in the long run using the digital service will be more cost effective for the broadcasters and it will also means they’ll reach a lot more listeners and get much more coverage and response to their station.
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