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DAB Radio and Digital Economy Act

Comment 16th July 2010

I understand that this act includes for the provision of switching off analogue radio and it's replacement with DAB (digital). This is just plain bonkers for the reasons below.

DAB is a poor performer and is already, in effect,  the betamax of digital radio, greedy for bandwidth and incapable of providing the hi fi sound currently available from a properly set up FM tuner. It is no accident that there are very few hi fi DAB tuners on the market capable of integrating into a  hi fi stack. There are other, much better, standards for digital radio in Europe (DAB+ et al) which utilise much better compression algorithms than does DAB

Advertising for DAB has always been misleading, starting with the statements that it provided CD quality sound. It doesn't by a large margin. Also, it is depressing in the extreme to see the current advertising campaign to persuade us to hand in analogue for DAB with the dubious stated aim of refurbishing the older stuff with a view to its redistribution to Africa etc. The problems with this approach are listed below and the effect is that radios handed in will surely finish up being scrapped rather than recycled.

  • Long wave is little used outside parts of Europe
  • Medium Wave is effectively unusable in large parts of Africa because of high static levels which is why they make much use of the tropical band frequencies. Tropical band is beyond the capability of most radios currently in use in the UK.
  • VHF is line of sight and therefore of little use in mountainous regions of the world.
  • The Baylis wind up radio was designed for third world conditions. All of the radios that will be handed in require either mains or battery power which is hardly appropriate for their intended use.
  • Will all the car radios that will be rendered useless also be sent to Africa?

DAB radios are very power hungry when compared to the current crop of radios. In the current climate do we really need to be swapping low power requirement for high?

It is not clear where the demand for this proposal comes from unless it is to sell off part of the radio spectrum. However, even this seems unlikely as the proposal would be for the freed up FM spectrum to be used by more local radio – dreadful thought.

To summarise, this seems to have been thought up by someone who doesn't really understand the issues at stake, to solve a need that isn't there or resolve a problem that doesn't exist. It seems to have been rushed through in the same way as the other main aspects of the act and the whole lot should be ditched and rethought.

Why does this matter?

If this isn't set aside we stand the chance of losing high quality hi fi standard radio and replacing it with something not as good in the name of progress. Ditch DAB and adopt something like DAB+ then it would be worth reconsidering.

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