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What is DAB Radio?

DAB or Digital Audio Broadcasting, is a way of digitally broadcasting radio through a network of transmitters. It is providing listeners around the world with a wider choice of listening & better sound quality. A DAB radio allows listeners to scroll through a comprehensive list of stations with ease and tune in at just the click of a button.

History of DAB in UK

DAB was under development since 1981 and demonstrations were held for many years across Europe, with the UK being the first country to receive a wide range of radio stations via DAB. In the UK, the uptake of DAB has increased dramatically since 1995, when the BBC national DAB ensemble was launched. Digital radios were first sold into car radios in 1997, with hi-fi tuners being released in 1999 at a more costly price. Digital One & Frontier Silicon produced a new processing chip which allowed cheaper portable radios to be produced.

In 2006 thanks to a vast increase in the uptake of DAB, retailers were announcing the discontinuing of analogue radios & welcoming the new digital era.

DAB in Australia

Commercial radio stations in the capitals have signalled their intention to start focusing on sales for DAB+ only stations. There are 3.2m people (65% of the population) listening to digital radio in the 5 state metropolitan capitals of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, and 2.3m digital radios have been sold. 15% of listening to radio is now via a DAB+ digital radio device in the capitals. There are 13 regular national multiplexes active and 2 regional multiplexes on trial with a total of 389 DAB+ programmes on air.


Digital radio is available in all metropolitan areas with 75% of the majority transit routes being covered as well as many rural areas. Total coverage is 89% of the area and 95% of the population. The national multiplex covers 89.4% of the area and 79% of the population with rollout of further transmitters planned.


The Swedish DAB network is operated by Teracom AB and covers major cities. Coverage is currently at about 35% of the population or around 9.1 million people with services from public service broadcaster Swedish Radio. The license under wish SR operates is valid until 31st December 2019.


Paris, Marseille and Nice have had access to digital terrestrial commercial radio (DAB+/DMB) services since 2014 with a total of 108 DAB+ radio stations currently on air in these areas. Trial services have been on air in Lyon and Nantes for several years with an additional trial taking place in Rambouillet.


In April 2015 Norway announced that they will be the first country to close down national FM-transmissions and switch to Digital in 2017. 99.5% of the population have access to DAB reception. Tunnels will have DAB coverage during 2016 with at least 260 being upgraded in total. There are a total of 108 DAB & DAB+ services on air however by 2017, all stations will transmit in DAB+.


Denmark has one of the highest numbers of DAB users per capita in the world, with 40% of the population having access to a digital radio. The Danish Ministry will switch off FM when digital listening is at 50% (currently 28%), with a full transition from DAB to DAB+, which is underway now, to be completed by the end of 2016. FM shutdown is inevitable to offer listeners more choice and to stimulate new channels on DAB. Denmark currently have a total of 29 DAB, DAB+ & Data services on air.


The launch of DAB+ in the Netherlands has been called the most successful yet in Europe with high sales figures for digital receivers. Commercial and public radio stations have 95% coverage with 90% of the population listening to the radio weekly. NPO and VCR together with the government are working together to promote Digital Radio+ in the Netherlands. A structural project team has been set up to facilitate the implementation.


In the three Belgian region (Flanders, Wallonia & Brussels), DAB coverage reaches more than 95% of the population with a total of 28 DAB, DAB+ and Data services on air. All motorways and main roads are covered, therefore mobile coverage is about 99%. A dedicated digital radio website was launched in May 2015 for promotion and information on DAB and DAB+ in Flanders and Brussels.


The Council of Ministers in Spain want to reduce DAB coverage from 52% to 20% in order to facilitate a migration to DAB+ with added DAB+ trials. Due to the enforcement of the Digitalisation Plan for Terrestrial Broadcasting, DAB services are on air only in Madrid & Barcelona covering 20% of the Spanish population with 19 DAB & DAB+ services on air. The migration has not yet been carried out.


Italy have a population coverage of 70% and new cars with DAB & DAB+ are up to 23.5%. There are 9 national and local multiplexes with 136 DAB+ and Data services on air. A further 6% of the Italian population with receive DAB+ digital radio transmissions once the services go on air. There are plans to extend coverage to 90% by 2017.


Regular multiplexes were launched by Polskie Radio in 2013 & 2014 to 6 cities. A further 12 cities were launched in spring 2014, bringing the population coverage to 56%. Poland have a total of 29 DAB & DAB+ services on air with DAB+ being trialled in several areas across Poland in 2015, with the intent to cover the whole country with DAB+ in 2020.


Hungary have chosen DAB+ for its digital radio standard. There is currently a test multiplex on air broadcasting 7 radio programs to Budapest. Coverage is at 30% of the population in Budapest and the surrounding area, but this is expected to reach 94% as Antenna Hungaria rolls out more transmitters and services. There is 1 national multiplex on trial and currently 7 DAB+ programmes on air.

Czech Republic

Coverage of the Czech by T-DAB is about 5.8m people, or 58% of the population. The digital networks are powered by three operators which have obtained the appropriate permission. Up to 18 stations are available to audiences in many Czech regions. There are 29 DAB+ services on air.

South Africa

The trial for a high powered DAB+ service ran from November 2014 for 12 months and has now been extended until August 2016, and Sentech will be the signal distributor for the duration of the trial. In the country there is 1 regional multiplex in trial. There are currently 18 DAB+ programmes on air.


The UK currently has the world’s largest digital radio network, with over 150 transmitters across the country and 415 DAB services. In the capital there are already more than 64 different digital stations available, including 34 BBC radio stations and digital listening extended its lead over analogue.

The UK radio industry is committed to a Digital future for radio and is currently working towards a Digital Radio Switchover whilst the government intends to migrate the vast majority of AM & FM analogue services to digital between 2016 & 2019.

With over half of all UK households now having a DAB radio, DAB listening boosted to nearly 40%, whilst analogue radio declined to a new low of 53.7%.

Hong Kong

The population coverage is currently 84.1% with the inauguration of a new gap-filler station in November 2014. Another station is in use as of August 2015, cumulating the coverage up to 84.1% of the population. RHTK operates and maintains the network on behalf of the Consortium and the 7 hilltop sites. There is 1 regular national multiplex in Hong Kong with 17 DAB+ programmes on air.


There is currently 1 local multiplex on trial with 4 DAB+ channels being broadcasted live across Abu Dhabi to 1.8million people as part of the trials GatesAir are running with Abu Dhabi Media. On the 1st July 2015, trials officially started with a 90 day period, and were expected to be extended however it couldn’t be a maximum of 180 days.


56% of the population are covered with 21 DAB & 10 DAB+ services on air with 1 regular national multiplex and 2 trial regional multiplexes. It is expected that Ireland will adopt the DAB+ as standard. Coverage is focused on the main metropolitan areas; Dublin, Cork and Limerick.


Digital radio will be launched officially in the first half of 2017. ORS comm has received a DAB+ trial licence and began broadcasting DAB+ test transmissions on May 28th 2015. The trial has been supported by Digital Radio Austria. Austria are committed to a digital radio future with 1 trial regional multiplex in Vienna offering 15 DAB+ services on air.


There are 4 regular national multiplexes, 3 regular regional multiplexes and 2 regular local multiplexes across the region with 15 DAB and 121 DAB+ services on air, accounting for the 45% of radio listening being digital in Switzerland. Digital radio on DAB+ in Switzerland reaches over 99.5% of the population however From 15 November 2016, listeners throughout Switzerland will be able to receive more of SRG SSR’s DAB+ channels. To make this possible, it is discontinuing operation of DAB.