venerdì 22 ottobre 2021

India’s Digital Radio Rollout Makes Headway

Red Tech
By Yogendra Pal
October 10, 2021

New Delhi - India’s radio market is vast and varied. Three types of broadcasters work in parallel to ensure national coverage. These are All India Radio, the radio arm of the public service broadcaster, Prasar Bharati; private FM stations; and a host of community radio stations.

AIR broadcasts in medium wave and shortwave, as well as in FM bands. AIR coverage in medium wave is nearly 100% by population, whereas only around 52% in FM. Private broadcasters and community radio stations are allowed to broadcast only in the FM band. Coverage of private FM broadcasters is limited to about 50%, most of which is overlapping with that of AIR’s.

The public broadcaster also produces news bulletins, which are carried by all the AIR transmitters. Private broadcasters are not allowed to disseminate news except for the retransmission of the AIR news bulletins.
AIR has already adopted and rolled out nationwide digital radio services in the medium wave and shortwave bands, using the Digital Radio Mondiale standard, which is endorsed for worldwide adoption by ITU, and is the only standard serving all radio broadcast bands.

Regular digital transmission in shortwave began Jan. 16, 2009, from a 250 kW transmitter in New Delhi. Today a 500 kW shortwave transmitter at Bengaluru carries AIR’s external DRM service. The organization is also presently testing two additional shortwave transmitters, 100 kW each, which are expected to be operational soon.

Digital Details:
In total, AIR is using 35 medium-wave transmitters ranging from 20 kW to 1000 kW to transmit in DRM. Five of these are operational 24/7 in pure DRM with the remaining 30 in simulcast, with one hour in pure DRM. Another six high power MW transmitters are being tested in DRM and these are expected to be carrying regular DRM service shortly.

AIR carries two-to-three digital audio services from a single medium-wave transmitter, along with the Journaline text service, and has successfully carried out tests of the Emergency Warning Functionality in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Authority. The broadcaster has taken several initiatives, including providing exclusive content and 24/7 news service (which was previously only available on the internet), to popularize the DRM digital services. Radio enthusiasts are also carrying out demos of DRM services across the country.

A digital receiver is required to receive digital radio broadcasts, as analog receivers cannot decode the digital signals. Most of the available digital receivers decode one digital standard only (and analog). There are prototypes of multi-standard digital receivers, but these are more expensive.

One of the welcome features of the country’s current DRM rollout has been the early commitment of many major car manufacturers who are already equipping new car models with line-fit DRM radio sets at no extra cost to the consumers. The rollout of DRM-equipped cars in India is growing rapidly, outstripping growth in other parts of the world. At present, some 3 million cars on the Indian roads have line-fit DRM receivers, and this number is increasing daily.

In parallel, efforts are being made by several Indian and foreign receiver manufacturers to provide standalone DRM receivers. These remain relatively expensive. As with any new technology, increasing volumes will make the cost of these receivers come down.

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(via Mike TErry via WOR io group)