Setback for Norway Digital Radio After Tuning Out FM

Norway’s digital radio network has suffered its first disruption just a week after it became the first nation to start shutting down its FM network, in a controversial move.

Setback for Norway Digital Radio After Tuning Out FMSome parts of the country, including areas near the capital, Oslo, were left without Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) on Wednesday night after two separate and simultaneous cable breaks caused by human error, said Norkring, the public body responsible for broadcasting.

The connection was re-established after about three hours, but the incident will do little to reassure most Norwegians, who see the transition to DAB from FM as premature.

The outage affected about five percent of the population that was able to receive DAB, Norkring said in a statement.

After a few tumultuous debates, Norway became on January 11 the first country in the world to begin phasing out its FM radio network.

Supporters say DAB offers better sound quality and more channels at an eighth of the cost of FM, or frequency modulation, transmission, which was launched in the US in 1945.
But a poll in the Dagbladet newspaper in December found that 66 percent of Norwegians were against shutting down FM, with only 17 percent in favour.

While around three-quarters of Norwegians have at least one DAB radio set, many motorists are unhappy, since only about a third of cars currently on the road are equipped for the service.

Converting a car radio involves buying an adaptor that costs DKK 1,000 to 2,000 (110 to 220 euros), or getting a new radio.

The switch-off began in Nordland, in the country’s north, and will expand to the rest of the nation by the end of the year, making millions of old radios obsolete.

Other countries such as Switzerland, Britain and Denmark are expected to follow suit in the coming years.

Aakash Ghosh

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