Sunday, September 16, 2012

DRM - Not sure they've got the memo

Currently consulting to several African radio stations. The subject of DRM came up. Are these guys serious? Yes, they have been serious since 1996. That's the clue to the problem.

AM broadcast facilities are being closed all over the planet, Not just mothballed - but demolished as it becomes uneconomic to use 500 kWs to blast just an audio signal across a border when satellite television has a much bigger audience impact.

We live in a visual world. And for the 8 or so countries where shortwave remains the only way to reach rural areas (Somalia comes to mind), these places will never go to digital SW. Remember these international networks were designed when oil was 40 dollars a barrel. Now the cost per listener is bonkers.

The user interfaces of most DRM receivers are poor (on the level of physics experiment)- and there are huge challenges to build the antenna into mobiles. The technology works. But is there still a need? Not in my recent experience. The window for Digitale Radio Mondiale has closed as a stand-alone technology. How long will they struggle on?

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