back to article That Digital Britain report in full

What's in the Digital Britain review? If you're plugged into our Live Twitter Feed, you'll already know, telepathically. But here are the highlights from the 240 page document Internet piracy Government will only get involved in menacing freetards as a last resort, and disconnection is off-the-agenda. Menacing will be handed …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evidence

    I'd still love to know what evidence they'll use to determine if someone is breaking copyright law without DPI or taking the word of mediadefender et al.

    Other words the report's a waste of good paper.

  2. michael W
    Stop

    FM?

    Wow, is there any real reason to try and end the analogue radio that we all currently enjoy? I've read articles about the failer of DAB and when you add that to the millions of devices in the UK, it seems stupid to kill it off so soon.

    Pretty much every car will have a pointless head unit in it :/

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MLF

    Martha Lane Fox as the champion for 'digital inclusion'? i.e. the person who will be encouraging those who don't presently go online to give it a try?

  4. Tanuki
    Thumb Down

    Waste of Space...

    Subsidies for crappy unread local newspapers and unwatched local TV stations? Extending the crazy 'universal service obligation' to include subsidised broadband? Forcing DAB down an unwilling populace's throat and continuing the quaint iniquitous TV-licence-tax?

    No thanks.

    Government directives aren't the answer. Government directives are the problem. I'll be sticking with my old-fashioned FM/AM radios at home and in the car, if only because here there is *no* usable DAB signal and even if there was the actual audio quality would be utterly disgusting.

  5. Waldo

    Hmmm

    On piracy, apart from proving guilt. With VPN now being trialled by TPB. It seems that ISP's will look forward to loss of revenue.. Why? Well because there are many tariffs that allow massive bandwidth and commensurate profit to ISP's I suspect that much of this consumer bandwidth is used for movies and other high volume data..

    Does the industry really want to cull its own revenue stream?

  6. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Pirate

    Why DAB/DRM?

    Who has any convincing argument for DAB (FM) and DRM (AM)?

    The radios are now, more expensive and consume more power, and most people don't have one. The channels on DAB have drop to a pitiful number and it appears an expense that no commercial broadcaster is interested in.

    And don't get me started in those piss-poor annoying adverts that FM is hard to tune (just what sort of morons are we supposed to be?) or that it offers "digital quality" sound (implying CD, but of course often poorer than crap MP3 ripped tracks).

    Flogging a dead here there :(

    Pirates, as they will rule FM when the legitimate broadcasters are pused to DAB (and probably do a better job).

  7. Frederick Karno
    Unhappy

    Marvellous

    the Governemnt already take VAT on our broadband now they want vat+50p.

    I wonder how much could be saved by getting rid of OFCOM who are supposedly there to protect customers but seem to have a different agenda.

  8. Graham Hawkins
    Flame

    DAB??

    DAB doesn't work at all for the BBC multiplex round here - Bracknell/Wokingham/Reading. What are we supposed to do?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Oh right.

    AC :Evidence used to punish file sharers will be the same evidence they use now, using IP's from trackers forwarded to ISP's then the warning letter goes out. Since TPB and others are now peppering torrents with random and innocent IP addresses; innocent people are going to be cut off.

    Waldo : ISP's won't lose any income whatsoever, an ISP is still required to connect to the VPN.

  10. Ryan Barrett

    Format shifting

    How, exactly, are the copyright cartel 'loosing out' to format shifting? They've already made the sale.

    Selling the same thing again wouldn't be at all fair, it's rewarding the artists (well, the record companies and other parasites mainly) for doing nothing.

  11. Claire Rand

    radio gaga.

    well my car radio hasn't been connected to the antenna in two years, mostly since I couldn't find an adaptor when I fitted it, and now can't be bothered to sort it.

    not sure I'm missing much really, just plugged an SD card into it and away it goes.

    the boradband tax is interesting, I dare say the date this will end isn;t noted anywhere and as such will simply carry on. I hope ISPs are not allowed to exclude this tax from the adverts, though I do hope its shown as a line item on the bill.

    I also assume this is a 50p tax + VAT and not just a 50p tax this is something that has brown mucky prints on it.

    there will be no requirement for 'evidence' since if the media co's had that they wouldn't need this sort of silliness. so it will be done on their word, and even if ZERO files were shared over the next year they would still have huge losses and demand more rules, so its basically a nice way of pushing that issue beyond the election, it will end up tied to the ID card system somehow.

    not too bothered about a bit of the licence fee for propaganda getting spread further, I don't watch much telly anyway, apart my my other half wanting it I'd not bother with that either.

    I guess as with most of these things the only people not consulted were the victims

  12. bluest.one
    Thumb Down

    A Whole Lotta Fail

    DAB is fail unless you have sufficiently strong reception. Unlike analogue radio is fails ungracefully and gives the lie to the claim that it's distortion-free (with the distortion being unlistenable unlike analogue's comparitively soothing hiss).

    And we are going to implement DAB+ with AAC+ rather than the decrepit mpeg-2 layer 2 (!!!!) codec, yeah? 'Cos ... otherwise ...

    2MB at minimum, by WHEN!? Can we say Vision Fail? Minimum 20MB by that time should be the standard, but I guess that wouldn't be 'fair' to the incumbents.

    Continuing fog about accusations and proof with regard to alleged copyright infringement. We all ready know the cartels bandy accusations at dead grandmothers and crippled children who don't own computers (on top of the downright lies about 'piracy' numbers and detriment to the economy). This has been addressed how, exactly?

    Expecting anything worthwhile, clued-up or visionary from this government .... that really is fail.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Leave FM alone!

    So much for real choice. Carter seems to have swallowed all the propaganda about DAB. The section on mandating DAB over FM shows how little clue they have about the reality of DAB. It is not a success because it doesn't deserve to be for reasons of high cost, low efficiency and poor sound quality. DAB+ might just be a satisfactory system.

    Well at least the Tories will probably drop this one. Now DRM would seem to be a good system for the am bands, but it needn't require existing stations be shut down, it can happen organically.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @Graham Hawkins

    <DAB doesn't work at all for the BBC multiplex round here - Bracknell/Wokingham/Reading. What are we supposed to do?>

    Well, if you will live out in the wilds what do you expect? Move back to civilization.

  15. Tim Spence

    @ Graham Hawkins

    Sort your system out then. I live in south Reading, and it's perfect for me.

  16. Steven Jones

    Hands off FM

    Getting rid of FM isn't like dispensing with analogue TV. The latter is largely used in fixed locations and it is relatively cheap and straightforwards to equipment to digital with set top boxes. In fact you get more channels and useful things like PVRs plus the possibility of HD. Of course aerials might need dealing with, and coverage can be patchy (but will that will sort itself out as analogue closes down).

    FM radio is a completely different thing. Radio is inherently a far more mobile thing. People have FM receivers in cars, in MP3 players, headsets, portable radios. I'd guess that the average household might have a dozen radios including those in vehicles, most of which will be rendered obsolete. There is no sensible way of upgrading these to DAB (receiving in digital and re-transmitting in FM rather defeats the point, not to mention being clumsy.

    The biggest problem is in-car entertainment. Firstly the number of DAB car radios available is currently tiny, secondly many radios in cars are tailored for the dash as both a security and aesthetic measure. They often have things like integrated stalk controls, and anybody who has tried fitting an after-market replacement will often be faced with a whole bunch of expensive, difficult to obtain fascia and wiring loom adapters, not to mention the problem of fitting the damn things and the often messy results. This is no small issues - in 6 years' time we might expect half the current vehicle fleet to still be on the road, and very, very few new cars are being delivered with DAB radios as standard.

    I don't suppose Lord Carter is concerned about this at all - he's just following his normal line of monetising public assets without any thought to the effect on people. How about putting this one to a public consultation.

  17. Grease Monkey

    @michael W

    They haven't scheduled a switch off date yet. They are talking about 100% coverage for DAB by 2015. So your head unit will still work for a good long time yet. But of course by 2015 most new cars will come with DAB head units anyway. I really don't see your problem. Then again maybe the problem is that you're one of those conservative types who try to come up with a reason to oppose any change.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Aargh Govt UK

    1. Do not spend ANY money on reducing piracy / cyber crime. (Because we all know what a good use of money the US war on drugs has been.) Let the market sort it out.

    Instead

    2. Spend the money on better net connections for all at a greatly subsidised cost. Aim a bit higher than 2 meg guys! How about 100meg symmetric. Aim high!

    Then you can make the physical Blu-ray /DVD/CD media redundant over say 5 years-

    Allow for UK innovation.

    Solve the local news broadcasting problem.

    Enable wide roll out of things like Telepresence at home (which by Cisco standards needs 5meg)

    Give me a shovel and a pick axe and I'll help lay some fibre for ya.

  19. Adrian Waterworth 1
    Thumb Down

    Oh great...

    ...airwaves full of the utterly unreliable, flaky, shoddy awfulness that is DAB. With no alternatives.

    I wish these assorted ministers and other dimwits who come up with this kind of steaming goat excrement would just go away. Very far, far away. And only come back when they've been soundly thrashed with the clue-stick.

    ("What's DAB stand for then?" "Dreadfully Awful Broadcasting, innit?")

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Carter wants digital radio in every car by 2012

    This is all well and good DAB radios are bloody expensive for cars at the moment. Not to mention I have a classic(ish) car and I have a stereo that fits with the style of the car. I'm not ripping it out just to get DAB. I don't really listen to the radio much now anyway.

    Yes I know I can get a DAB radio with FM transmitter but will they be available in 2012? Not to mention they're still expensive at the moment (at least not £30 like the DAB radio I have in my kitchen which I haven't turned on in 6 months).

    Personally I think it's a waste of time, I mean with GCap (now Global) and other big players in commercial radio closing down DAB stations and the stupid costs incurred to run a DAB station (I did work for GCap for a while and it was discussed about trying to get Arquiva to lower their prices) I doubt the smaller independent commercial stations will be able to afford it.

    Saying that though, can they make it a requirement of the stations license so they have to have a local presenters (and I mean local, not 25 miles down the road from their TSA they're supposed to be covering) from 7am until 7pm from Monday to Friday with LOCAL news every day and local travel, because at the moment if the commercial radio stations get their own way (and you can't argue that Ofcom haven't got the balls to stand up to them) there won't be anything like local radio anymore, just national radio stations competing with the national BBC.

  21. Crazziee
    Thumb Down

    50 pence

    So why is the Government going to take money from me to give to the Telephone Companies who will invest in faster networks that they will then charge me to use.

    Didn’t I just pay for that already?

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    @ michael W

    "Wow, is there any real reason to try and end the analogue radio that we all currently enjoy?"

    Of course there is (if you're the government that is).

    Channels re-sized due to going digital -> freed up bandwidth -> auctionable commodity -> cash to Treasury.

    The 3g auction got HMG big bucks (I think there was also a follow up in the UK for 34Ghz which did not go so well) who cares it near bankrupted the mobile companies.

    I cannot be asked to get a Freeview box. if they want me to dump my viewing, they can pay for it themselves.

    Does anyone else get an Albert Speer in the last days of the Chancellery Bunker making models of the post war German victory kind of vibe off this?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Why should I pay

    Saw this on the news as well.

    I live in a rented flat in Southall its a shole, I have a 2mg conection because its all I can afford. I am on the dole and BT gave the bloke who cost me my job £1million+ after he lost £1Billion+.

    Now I am expected to pay £6 so someone in Hambeldon (a truely lovley place) can get a 2meg link! Also I should feel sorry for her because even her wireless conection is rubbish, wish I could afford a wireless link even a none working one.

    I am more than happy to swop homes but not sub her £6 a year.

    Also I will have to buy a new radio so I can have a poorer quality sound while subing the posh in Berkshire.

    Finally they are going to monitor my internet for p2p while having failed to monitor the shisters that have got the world into the state it is.

    My perfect job head of ubs bank lose 25+bill and get 100mil to leave - I can do that just buy a bigger streader.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    I'd like to see them try...

    It is impossible to stop people getting free music.

    Right now I run my torrents encrypted, refusing unencrypted connections, and running all communications with trackers through tor. Although my IP address could theoreticalyl b obtained by querying a tracker for peers on a torrent, this has been shown to give so many false possitives it is not accepted as proof.

    I can easily upgrade my security to a service like IPREDATOR or any other of the hundreds out there, or even get a virtual server and set up my own, removing the last vulnerability still remaining.

  25. Busby
    Pirate

    Title required

    Not the most important issue raised but random thought.

    The lucky few with naked DSL presumably they avoid the 50p tax. So those with the benefits of a digital future don't contribute like everyone else for it to be rolled out for the nation as a whole?

    Random thought number two, whatever your stance on piracy you wont be happy with what's been announced. Sounds the most half arsed cock up seen from the government in a long while..... oh wait!

  26. n 5

    www.comparethemonopoly.com

    How can you fund the bbc propaganda machine when no-one has a tv anymore?

    Simples! Introduce a "digital tax"....

    They used to say "but i don't watch the bbc channels" hahaha!

    Now they say, "but i don't log on to bbc.co.uk" WAAAHAAAHAAAA!

    THE FOOLS!

  27. Robert E A Harvey
    Unhappy

    Abstrads!

    First they ruin my pension, so will have to work till I am 90

    Next they put cameras in every bodily orifice so they can spy on me all day long.

    Now they want to ruin both the BBC and radio, so my last remaining pleasure is denied me.

    Evil flipwits (news quiz passim) the lot of them.

    Is the main reason they want to outlaw analogue radio the ease with which suruptitious transmitters could be set up? Or just to stop me listening to Hilversum and Berlin?

  28. Steven Jones

    @Busby

    You'll probably find the charge is on a copper loop or a co-ax connection so naked ADSL users are unlikely to escape. It would be aq trifle illogical if they did. However, these are only proposals so no doubt there is a lot more detail to be worked out. Of course the chance of this lots being around to implement it is looking remote just now.

  29. techmind
    Thumb Down

    Why the rush to get rid of FM?

    The plan, according to the report is to put ultra-local stations on the existing FM band as a temporary measure.

    What is to happen to these ultra-local stations after the temporary period? DAB works with "bundles" (ie multiplexes) of stations and is inherently unsuited to ad-hoc geographical configurations of small-time local stations.

    Of course, the centralised infrastructure required for DAB broadcast networks suits this government's command-and-control mentality.

    If they're occupying the FM band with local stations, they can't re-sell the spectrum for other purposes (and the ultra-local stations won't have the budget to pay huge licenses).

    And while I acknowledge that there is demand for more stations in the major conurbations -London in particular- than FM has space for, why should the rest of the country where the FM band is not overcrowded have their existing stations forced off FM purely on a government whim?

    The graph on page 93 of the report showing uptake of DAB seems to have the labels transposed on the extrapolated curves for optimistic ("organic growth" 56% by 2015) and very-optimistic ("drive to digital" 68% by 2015).

    From the actual data shown, I think more reasonable interpretation is that the market for DAB is saturating and may just asymptotically approach 30% share of radio listening by 2015.

    The report marvels how many DAB digital radios now consume less power than a low energy lightbulb. That would be about 11 watts. Plenty of analog radios with a small speaker run for tens of hours on a couple of puny AA batteries, or for several hundred hours on earphones (about 25milliwatts).

    Fail, fail, fail, and fail again.

  30. Nick 26

    FM

    The reason they want to close down FM is so that they can flog the frequencies to mobile networks

  31. Old Tom
    Stop

    Radio Gaga

    I listen to a certain BBC local radio station a lot. I live and work outside its official area but can mostly receive it OK.

    - I will never be able to get that station on DAB at home or for 98% of my time in my car.

    - I can't listen to the station wia the Interweb in my car.

    - The Interweb feed is cut during times of football commentary.

    So I effectively lose access to that BBC station I pay for. Also, with FM, they can broadcast commentary for more than one footy match at a time using their different frequencies. With DAB they won't be able to.

    I have a portable DAB radio. But it's not really portable - it eats batteries; it has an extendable aerial rendering it impracticle to use while on the hoof.

    FM is a global standard. DAB is a bespoke local standard. This is why my car and my phone have FM and not DAB.

    Will you ever be able to get an inexpensive hat with built-in DAB?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    random thought from different anon

    im with virgin media.

    As the tax is on fixed land lines, if i just cancel the land line (but keep the internet and tv package), then does that mean i dont have to pay this tax?

    no landline = no tax?

    I use my mobile for most of my communitcation, only using the landline to dial out to a non geographic number (bloody call centres grrr)

    i could see this sort of loophole getting tied up pretty quickly

  33. Mark 133
    Pirate

    Yo & Yo Homiez...

    Given the plan to junk 'respectable' radio from the FM band, I for one am looking forward to the local East London pirate talk radio replacement for Radio 4.

  34. 2FishInATank
    Stop

    The death of AM/FM radio is bad

    Others have stated good reasons why DAB is BAD (y'see what I did there?) - but in my opinion, the death of AM/FM radio is a bad thing for a more subtle reason.

    I have a more-than-passing interest in electronics. I regularly fix and/or customise a variety of electronic equipment for myself, family, friends, my businesses and paying customers. I design and make guitar effects pedals, repair and customise assorted guitar/bass/keyboard/PA amplifiers, and have rescued a number of PCs that were otherwise heading for landfill by replacing components on motherboards.

    I can trace my interest in electronics back over the thick end of three decades - to the time when I followed fairly simple instructions to make fairly simple radio circuits in my childhood. Being able to listen to my choice of radio stations on a receiver that I built myself was an exciting experience for this particular (former) kid.

    I can't help but think that there are a large number of individuals with far greater skill than I, who have achieved a damn sight more that I ever have or could who will have also cut their teeth in similar ways.

    Try getting an 8 year old to build a DAB set!

    By getting rid of AM/FM radio, we are raising the bar of entry to hobbyist electronics (and beyond) by such a degree that people who could be the next generation of innovators will find something else - perhaps less worthwhile - to do.

  35. frymaster

    re: fake IPs on torrents

    "Since TPB and others are now peppering torrents with random and innocent IP addresses; innocent people are going to be cut off."

    "Although my IP address could theoreticalyl b obtained by querying a tracker for peers on a torrent, this has been shown to give so many false possitives it is not accepted as proof."

    That's really not hard to get around. All you have to do is only list IPs that have actually uploaded a verified chunk of file to whatever snooper they have connected to the torrent. That also ensures they are targeting "providers" not just "downloaders". Yes, that's a meaningless distinction to make in a p2p network. Yes, there's been cases of people getting letters as a result of fake IPs in swarms before (although not in this country, I believe). But if your immunity relies on them never ever wising up, I'd be just a little bit less assured...

  36. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Perhaps if BT gave access to their tunnels

    Like their counterparts do in France.

    3 companies (according to Ch4 News) in a race to roll out fibre. I'll be their current *average* BB is better than this plan.

    BT's predecessor was formed to unify UK telephon infrastructure (that's right. multiple private telephone services that were incompatible at the *number of wires/voltage and currents used level*). They built a lot of infrastructure.

    That was then, this is now. Split the infrastructure side of BT (*no* services at all just the hardware) into a seperate division. If another supplier takes over your phone service as well and it fails they pay the BT Infrastructure division to fix it or use their own people).

    Getting BT to change its ways will need government commitment and a strong smart regulator.

    But 40mbs everywhere? Sky (or even Skype?) as the UK's 3 phone company.

    But £6 for my landline because BT and Vermin can't be asked.

    Just a thought.

  37. Ian 35

    But of course by 2015 most new cars will come with DAB head units anyway.

    Why would world-wide car manufacturers go to the effort of producing a radio specific to one, small market?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    DAB - Dead And deserves to be Buried.

    Got one - don't use it. WiFi radio is far superior. Having a problem fitting it to my car though I keep driving out of range of my WiFi. So I have this fantastic thing fitted it's called an AM/FM radio. Good sound and easy to operate.

    Now to totally ar5e up this picture take one G Brown and stir well oh and tax me to pay you to ruin everything while your at it.

    Whats wrong with that then?

    Digital Britain? Bunch or ar5e if you ask me. Government w**kers.

  39. Alfonso Vespucci
    Stop

    DAB. Great!

    Now all I need is at least a grand to replace my analogue radios and a supply of 20Ah AAA batteries.

    Don't think of it as an electric car- think of it as a self-propelled powerpack for your walkman.

  40. rogueelement
    Thumb Up

    @Graham Hawkins/Tim Spence

    "DAB doesn't work at all for the BBC multiplex round here - Bracknell/Wokingham/Reading. What are we supposed to do?"

    "Sort your system out then. I live in south Reading, and it's perfect for me."

    It works in Wokingham too....is it just Bracknell then?

  41. Metalshark

    Phorm

    They comment on Phorm style tactics:

    "Targeted advertising is a new business model and, properly handled, could be an important revenue earner."

    Alongside the scary statement of

    To ensure that the UK economy and UK taxpayers gain the benefits of our ability to gather and use data, while retaining confidence that proper protections are in place, Government needs to play a leading role in the debate.

  42. Neil 44
    Stop

    DAB is no replacement for FM+RDS

    There's one glaring omission from the standard: no equivalent of RDS.

    That means no Traffic Announcements from the local station when in cars, no automatic (and almost instantaneous) switching to an alternate transmitter when you are driving.

    Thus it just doesn't work for receivers in cars!

    Its not simply a matter of the UK not implementing it, it simply isn't in the standard...

    DAB being on Band III whereas FM is on Band II is going to be an issue. Band III being higher frequency has poorer coverage than Band II (it bends round objects less well) - thus the broadcasters will need more transmitters to achieve the same level of coverage (for the old 405 line TV transmissions you typically had a simple X aerial for the BBC on Band I and a multi-element part for ITV on Band III)

    That's beside the fact that only the UK and Denmark are still using DAB to any extent (according to El Reg http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/28/germany_switches_dab_off/ ). I can't see mainstream, global suppliers either of cars or radios wanting to spend much on development for what is globally a small market.

    So why are we bothering?

    Keep It Simple, Stupid - as the saying goes.

  43. David Shields

    @Ryan Barrett - Format Shifting

    Indeed. So I capture a program I like on my Sky+ box, then dump it to DVD to free up woefully inadequate hard disk.

    Why the *flying fuck* do these bastards think they should be compensated! They broadcast it, I received it, I watch it. Thieving twunts.

  44. James Pickett

    Unreality show

    What odds could I get from a bookie that analogue radio will be still be with us after 2015? I'm willing to bet that DAB (in its current form) will die before FM.

    What planet do ministers live on? We have at least eight analogue radios here, most of which have worked perfectly for years. Why on earth would I want to replace them?

  45. Richard 35
    Thumb Down

    DAB = Dead and Buried

    DAB is shit. It sounds shit and as I understand things, it's going to be superceded. DRM? Thats a joke, what with all the PLT shit clogging up the HF spectrum making it unuseable.

    Load of wank. Is Carter going to pay me the £1k that my FM tuner cost me? Cunts.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Don't kill FMsca

    I am really annoyed at the attempts to kill FM radio. Also, the ridiculous timescale they have given. There will be more electronic equipment in landfill sites and also DAB is just rubbish, needing so much electricity. You cannot make a portable DAB radio that you can take with you. With an FM radio, you can take it around the world with you and it will work and you can use batteries that last for ages.

    If we want to save the planet, then this means, no to DAB.

  47. zebthecat
    Thumb Down

    TMS on DAB

    "It's the last ball of the 2015 Ashes series.

    It is really coming to the boil here at the Oval. The series is level at 2-2 and England need 2 to win from the last ball.

    The bowler is back to his mark...

    He turns...

    in he comes - up to the stumps and.."

    GLOP GLOP SQUELCH

    "...amazing this the most exciting series I have ever "

    GLOP GLOP SQUELCH

    ".. have won"

    Fantastic idea I reckon

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DAB is an anagram.

    Perfect example of free market forces in action. Hardly anyone with a brain listens to DAB in the UK because it is broadcast at the lowest possible bit rate using the oldest technical specification. Signal strength is too variable and doesn't degrade gracefully like FM. Power consumption is such that true portability (room to room or walkabout) can only be achieved by wearing a military style power pack on your back. As for the original programming content we were promised, that turned out to be just another bunch of DJs spinning their way through life.

    Investors dumped it as soon as they realised that it wasn't another New Labour license to print money. Advertisers dumped it because, well, see above.

    The government's response is to inflict this hideous mess on the whole UK population while disposing of our high quality FM service to the usual suspects.

    For a graphic depiction of where we stand in the international league table of DAB nations try this:

    http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/dab/worldwide_dab.htm

  49. Len Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The answer is DAB+, not DAB

    @Neil 44

    The report mentions that World DMB Forum profile 1(http://www.worlddab.org/public_documents/WorldDMB_Digital_Radio_Receiver_Profiles.pdf) would be the standard for all radios (including in-car ones). That means compulsory DAB, DAB+ and DMB-A compatibility. Therefore the market is actually huge, not just UK+Denmark but also almost all of continental Europe, Australia, several Middle-Eastern and Asian countries and possibly China. Even without China the market is well over half a billion people.

    With a market that size and countries like France making the inclusion of digital radio a legal requirement in cars from 2012, expect the vast majority of cars to come with digital radios as standard within a few years.

    And yes, basically the report makes way for the gradual migration from DAB to DAB+ in the UK. Finally the quality we've been promised years ago, MPEG4 HE-AAC encoding, much better error correction and many additional services.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Completely Unrelated Rant

    FFS people, "losing" and "loosing" are two different word, learn them and they will serve you well!

    It's not difficult, really!.

    losing - The action of the verb to lose; That loses or lose, or has or have lost - 99% of the time you use loosing, this is the word you meant!

    loosing - The action of the verb to loose. This means to slacken or to release possibly even untie. Unless you happen to be an archer, you could probably go a long time without ever having to use this.

  51. Alan 29
    Paris Hilton

    @ 2FishinATank

    I built my own radios too -- I am at this moment listening on one of my FM sets which is about 40 years old now, there's no way I could build a DAB set but I don't think anybody builds things nowadays anyway, these days are long gone.

    People still "build" computers of course (including me) but it's not the same, you only assemble manufactured boards into a case, plug it all together, say a quick prayer and switch on -- if it doesn't go bang, load up your O/S and software, (spend time configuring and cursing it getting it the way you want it) and your away -- good fun though and a useful end product.

    They could probably flog off band 2 frequencies but I doubt if they could re-use MW / SW frequencies because other countries still broadcast on MW / SW and there would be problems with interference to any services attempting to use these frequencies here.

    Some things do benefit from going digital, freeview is a perfect example -- throw a set top box at your telly and it works, if you get one with a PVR/ DVD writer built in you get recorded quality way ahead of what your old VCR could do and if the hard disk fills up, just chuck in a DVD disk and the box will copy stuff you want to keep to disk for you. Couldn't be simpler

    Radio however, as others have mentioned, is often portable -- band 3 frequencies are not so good for portable gear (move your DAB radio and it resorts to bubbling mud) -- as far as AM/FM radio is concerned, it works well and if it ain't broke -- don't fix it.

    As far as this broadband tax is concerned, I have a BT line but can't get broadband -- the exchange is oversubscribed, it is not likely to be fixed any time soon but I get 3G broadband, not ideal but works so I will be paying a tax for nothing. As with any other tax, it starts cheap -- 50p a month won't exactly break the bank but I bet it will increase year on year like every other tax and the reason for introducing it will be quietly forgotten. In a few years we will be paying internet access tax along with TV licence tax and road tax.

    Paris, just because

  52. Bod
    Thumb Down

    Car radio

    So are they going to buy me a new car then as mine has built in radio and integrated display and steering & voice controls that all become redundant if they switch off FM ? Using DAB->FM transmitter gadgets is not an acceptable solution as I still won't have the steering & voice controls and won't be able to see information on the display, and I'd not be getting traffic info etc. Not to mention it'll be screwed up by everyone else driving past with similar transmitters.

    The integrated sat nav gets traffic info via the RDS system I believe, so will that be cut off too?

    And to top it off, DAB is apparently crap anyway, especially in a moving vehicle. At least with FM, where you have a weak signal, you can hear something. Good enough if you want the news or travel. With DAB it seems you just lose channels entirely.

    And of course the UK is mostly alone in DAB, so cars with it built in will have a premium added to the price.

    Looks like I'll have to sell the car to some poor mug who's not aware of the situation before 2015, otherwise the value of the car will suddenly plummet.

  53. jeffrey 1
    Flame

    Personally

    Here are my ideas

    1)Replace AM with DRM (simulcast for some of the more important stations)

    2)Sell of the DAB spectrum

    3)Ban BBC local FM stations from having more than one frequency band for a local station (why does bbc radio derby deserve 3? half the time it is the same rubbish as bbc radio nottingham anyway which already has 2. you could mitigate this by moving them to drm

    4)Get rid of the ridiculous amount of frequency devoted to radio 3, at one point in my car I can find it on 9 different fm frequencies. Besides it only has 14 listeners anyway so why not just give it from 90.4mhz to 91mhz ( I would be in favour of abolishing it altogether but the insessant whining of the Friends of Radio 3 Campaign in the national newspapers would be too much.)

    5)Cut some spectrum of the other 3 BBC nationals, though keep them running as they are all good. They just need someone to sit down and think about the best use of spectrum, surely you could get the same coverage with less frequencies, especially if they were duplicated on DRM

    6)Devote all spectrum above Classic FM to unliscensed low power FM use. I.E. for pirate radio / ipod's whatever (though keep the ban on religous content transmission) .

    <prepares for backlash>

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Radio 3

    Using the latest rajar figures and bbc governors accounts

    Radio 1 costs £1.52 a listener

    Radio 2 costs £1.76 a listener

    Radio 3 costs £18.18 a listener

    Radio 4 costs £7.14 a listener

    How they can justify spending that much for 1.9 Million listeners I don't know.

  55. peter garner
    Happy

    Time for another Internet

    Mesh computing, in the hands of The People. How local do you want your news to be?

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Len DAB Quality

    Len, migrating to MPEG4 compression isn't guaranteed to improve quality.

    It's not only down to the particular compression algorithms that determine quality.

    In the case of our current DAB system, the operators have deliberately downgraded the quality - by using a low sample rate, in order to squeeze more radio channels into a given bandwith of the RF spectrum.

    No doubt (and I'm not an expert on DAB) they can change the compression parameters too.

    If that philosophy continues, and I bet it will, then even when we start using MPEG4 the audio quality will be inferior to conventional broadcast FM. There is no guarantee that DAB in the future will be of equal or superior quality to broadcast FM of today.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Re: Personally

    “Ban BBC local FM stations from having more than one frequency band for a local station (why does bbc radio derby deserve 3? half the time it is the same rubbish as bbc radio nottingham anyway which already has 2”

    BBC Radio Newcastle broadcast on FM, AM and DAB. They use this to split coverage, generally covering one of the local big clubs' away games on FM & DAB with either non-football or the other's game on AM. Otherwise, it's the same stuff on all three.

    I also recall an instance of them broadcasting different content on each: Newcastle on FM, the SMBs on AM and the Falcons on DAB…

  58. Len Silver badge
    Happy

    DAB+

    @RotaCyclic

    I am aware of that. However, first of all the error correction mechanism in DAB+ is much more advanced. You are much less likely to come across that "bubbling mud" sound that is so characteristic for the old DAB standard and the receiver will be able to turn weaker signals into a good audio signal. That means better reception indoors, in moving vehicles and further away from the transmitter.

    Secondly, because MPEG4 (HE-AACv2 in this case to be precise) is much more efficient a 64kbit stereo stream will sound better than FM or 192Kbit MPEG1-level2 (which the old DAB uses). Personally, I even find 48Kbit HE-AACv2 very good and certainly good enough for stereo music in noisy environments like cars. And that is for stereo music, you can easily halve that bitrate for mono spoken word.

    So, the error resilliance of DAB+ is something no broadcaster can and will change. Of course, if they really want to they could drive bitrates down to 24Kbit or worse but I think that is unlikely:

    * Three high quality DAB+ channels can fit in the space of a single DAB channel and getting rid of inneffiencent analogue broadcasts creates even more capacity. The current issues (low bitrates) are due to lack of capacity, that is not likely to be the case after 2015.

    * Broadcasters and Ofcom know all too well that one of the main selling points of DAB should be audio quality and that it's failing in the current situation.

  59. Hairy Scary
    IT Angle

    @ Len

    Yes, DAB+ will be a big improvement over DAB as it is more resilient but at 64Kbit it will not be as good as FM listened to on a good quality Hi Fi system.

    I have encoded a high quality source to MPEG4 at 64Kbit, play both back through the Hi Fi and you certainly notice the difference. The reason is that MPEG4 is a lossy compression, the lower the bitrate the more the loss. However, DAB+ at 64Kbit will sound the same as FM on a portable or car set so for most people it will be good enough (even AM in the car is good enough for me), only people that listen through good Hi Fi systems will notice the poorer quality. There is still the problem of high power consumption, your portable AM/FM jobbie will run for months on one set of batteries (assuming decent sized batteries like "C" cells) whereas the DAB set only a few days.

    One problem with DAB+ is DAB -- all those people that bought expensive DAB sets will find them useless in the near future as DAB stations will go off air to be replaced with DAB+ and the majority of sets cannot be upgraded to decode DAB+, some later ones have a USB connector so they can have the firmware upgraded via a PC (if the manufacturer puts out an upgrade).

    What's the IT angle? -- upgrading your DAB set using a PC of course!

  60. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    @Tim Spence

    Well in Binfield you need a bloody great big roof mounted arial to get Radio 4 on DAB. on FM my little shower radio does it quite happily with no external arial.

    They also need to sort out the PIPs because the time signal is wrong on DAB.

    For a government that claims to be Green* forcing a move to DAB is tantamount to eco terrorism. How many FM radios will end up in land fill?

    How many more batteries will be consumed in the UK if this goes through?

    How much more CO2 will be emitted due to the extra power needed to receive DAB?

    How many more perfectly good cars will be scrapped and replaced because the radio doesn't work anymore?

    *does Green government mean naive?

  61. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    Remember less than 365 days to the next election.

    Will *any* of this tripe be implemented?

  62. asdf
    Thumb Up

    clueless yank

    The only thing I know about Radio 1 is that mildly famous jingle that british invasion artist Jimi Hendrix (another example of just how sharp the big studios in America are at spotting talent, Chaz people everywhere thank you) did for them. Radio 1 you're the only one for me. Still the BBC radio was the only thing worth a crap listening to in Germany (sucked when would switch to crappy RFI on me) and is even cool to listen for the global news in the States on NPR. So I know the beep gets dissed but not having to pay for it and able to enjoy it I do thank the UK public. Unfair maybe but my tax dollars did pay for the GPS you enjoy so in the end its a wash.

  63. Hairy Scary
    Happy

    The Great Switch Off --- Don't Panic

    Well, after reading the new article it seems my 40 year old home made AM/FM set will go on for long enough yet (+ all the others that are kicking around the house).

  64. Mike 16 Silver badge

    Nobody builds anything?

    A friend of mine makes her own transistors, in a hobby grade ceramics kiln.

    Of course, she is at the far end of a spectrum, but in case you haven't noticed, DIY is experiencing a bit of a resurgence.

    OTOH, other friends build clocks, trebuchets and steam launches, so perhaps I just have unusual friends?

  65. Robert E A Harvey
    Paris Hilton

    @Mike 16

    >A friend of mine makes her own transistors, in a hobby grade ceramics kiln.

    >OTOH, other friends build clocks, trebuchets and steam launches, so perhaps I just have unusual friends?

    So at weekends they can bombard riverside homes with electronic timepieces?

    Paris has strange friends too.

  66. Giles Jones Gold badge

    DAB and low signal

    When DAB struggles for reception it goes all garbled and is really annoying. When FM struggles for reception it just hisses a bit.

    DAB in a car will be fun, it will be so annoying most people won't use it.

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