DAB is the luddites' choice
Some facts for the luddites to ponder regarding DAB:
DAB was designed in the late 1980s, and the DAB system we're using in the UK is still using exactly the same technologies that were chosen for it in the late 1980s.
The audio codec used is MP2 (MPEG Layer 2), which is meant to be used at 192 kbps or higher but 98% of stations in the UK on DAB use it at 128 kbps. For comparison purposes, the BBC uses MP2 at 256 kbps for its BBC 1, 2, 3, 4 TV channels, and yet it only sees fit to use 128 kbps for its music stations apart from Radio 3.
The (convolutional) error correction coding is extremely weak, which is why so many people suffer from "bubbling mud".
The AAC audio codec was standardised in 1997, which was 5 years before DAB was properly launched in 2002, and Reed-Solomon error correction coding was invented in 1960 and is used as the error correctino coding on CDs. If these two technologies had been adopted as part of an upgrade of the system prior to DAB being properly launched in 2002 we wouldn't have a problem with sound quality on DAB and those that suffer from poor reception quality would receive a far more robust signal for the same transmitter power levels that are used at the moment.
DAB+ has now adopted AAC+, which is a slightly more efficient version of AAC, and it has adopted Reed-Solomon coding, so it does now solve DAB's technological problems.
The reason why DAB+ was designed was that country after country was refusing to use DAB, and if DAB wasn't upgraded then the UK, Denmark and Norway would become stranded as being the only countries using the old DAB system, and everyone else would adopt one of the mobile TV systems to carry digital radio instead, like France just has.
Just to show exactly how incompetent a decision it was to adopt DAB without upgrading it first, consider that AM radio has been around since the 1920s and FM was first broadcast in the 1940s, and they're still both being used today, and yet just THREE YEARS after DAB was properly launched in the UK WorldDAB decided that it had to design DAB+ in October 2005. How ridiculous can you get? And FM provides higher audio quality than DAB!!
And as the excellent article comments, Ofcom only applies it "light-touch" regulation remit when it suits its own agenda to do so, and in the example of DAB+ it's stopped Channel 4 from using DAB+ for some unknown reason. Oh, hold on, Ofcom's Director of Radio, Peter Davies, was part of the "strategy" team at the BBC that made the fateful decision to use the 1980s version of DAB, so our hallowed regulator seems to have a massive personal vested interest in this issue.
As the article also suggested, the future of digital radio is on the Internet, and DAB will become the choice of the luddites and technophobes ONLY. Well, perhaps a few other people without any sense may also use them.
GCap Media, the UK's largest commercial radio group, has been running 128 kbps WMA streams for all of its stations since January last year, and there are around 5,700 streams on shoutcast.com alone that are using bit rate levels of 128 kbps or above with the MP3 or AAC+ audio codecs, which are far superior to MP2, as is WMA, and hence all of these statinos provide far higher quality than DAB provides.
The BBC has been trialing multicast for live streams for a number of years, and it will apparently be launching it this year. The bit rate levels are also between 128 kbps and 192 kbps, with modern audio codecs, so again teh audio quality will be far higher than DAB provides.
By the time of the London Olympics, apparently we'll see a dozen or more HDTV streams of different sporting events delivered via multicast, and as HD uses bit rate of 10 Mbps+, the bit rates of radio stations using multicast can obviously be far higher than teh current 128k to 192k.
As I say, DAB will be the preserve of luddites and technophobes, because why would anyone want to listen at lower quality to a narrower range of stations (all DAB stations have Internet streams) and possibly with dodgy reception quality?
The problem with Internet radio up to now is that the BBC has been deliberately limiting the audio quality of its Internet streams, and given its massive bias towards DAB, I would say that has obviously been to help the failing DAB system. The BBC has just launched the iPlayer TV streams which are usign bit rates of 550 kbps serving up to 660,000 people per day, and yet until around September last year the BBC was only using bit rate levels of 32 kbps with the dire Real G2 audio codec for its Internet radio streams. The BBC also butchers the audio for its Internet radio streams by receiving its own stations off-air via satellite at the location where the Internet radio servers are (even though it has fat pipes to Maidenhead where the servers are located) where the audio is re-compressed to Real G2. This is terrible audio engineering practice, and combine that with the ultra-low bit rates until late last year and the use of a dire audio codec, it's no surprise that the BBC's Internet radio streams were completely unlistenable - and now the majority of the public is under the misconception that Internet radio provides low audio quality, so job done by the BBC.
However, the BBC can only go so long before it becomes so much of a laughing stock that it will be forced to provide good quality - multicast is an obvious example where it will be inevitable that the BBC will provide high quality Internet radio streams.