You may well have heard the term ‘digital switch over‘ in recent months and be wondering what all the fuss is about. Read this simple guide to find out more.
What Is Digital Radio?
Digital radio simply means that instead of receiving an analogue signal, your radio broadcast is provided by a digital platform. This means that you can listen to the radio on the internet, through a DAB radio or via a digital television. The government intends for DAB, also known as Digital Audio Broadcast, to become the main broadcasting platform used by national radio stations. In order to do this, consumers will switch from using FM radios to digital ones.
How Will I Benefit?
One of the main advantages of digital radio is that more programmes can be accommodated in a given spectrum as each station takes up less bandwidth. Simply put, there is room for more radio stations, so there will be more broadcasts to choose from. This is great news as it provides access to a broader range of music, news and chat programmes, catering for a wider range of tastes.
The sound quality is also much better, with none of the hissing, crackling or station overlap of analogue radios. In addition to improved choice and sound, digital radios have a number of other benefits. Tuning them to particular stations is easier as you search for them by name, rather than frequency. Digital radios can display the details of the track and artist that are playing – so if you hear a song on the radio that you like, you can quickly find out who it’s by. Some digital radios will allow you to pause and rewind during a broadcast. YourDAB-radio may even allow you to record your favorite programmes.
Are There Any Downsides?
As we are still some way away from a complete digital switch over, reception can be a bit erratic in some areas. However, as more transmitters are installed around the country, this will constantly improve.
Digital radios are also currently a little more expensive than analogue ones as the component parts are more costly to produce. As with any new technology, the price will decrease as digital radios become the norm. Changing car radios to digital is also a logistical challenge. Although some cars have a built-in solution, many will need to install a special adapter.
Do I Need To Do Anything?
Not just yet. Many of the stations that you listen to on an FM radio are also already broadcasting digitally in readiness for the changeover. There is no fixed date for digital radio switch over, although 2015 has been suggested as a possible target. The government has said that analogue switch-off will not take place until 50% of the population are listening digitally, so this date is subject to change. However, if you are considering buying a new radio, DAB is a good choice to ensure you are ready for when the changeover comes.
Digital switch over may seem a complex idea but in reality it is a simple process that will allow for enhanced listening quality and greater consumer choice.