back to article Local radio stations band together against DAB

Ofcom's DAB consultation is supposed to be about measuring coverage and assigning multiplexes, but more than 50 local radio stations have teamed up to voice their frustration over the whole process. The consultation was published back in June, including questions about how FM and DAB coverage should be measured and whether …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have DAB

    Bought for me as a christmas present.

    Its rubbish. Bought it to listen to 6music at work mostly. Moved offices (to the one below) and now I get no signal at all. Note that I work in a city and I'm next to the window.

    The secondary reason was to plug it into the car to listen to - again, no chance at all.

    If I'm sat still, next to the mast (so I can get a signal) the bit rate is awful anyway. This isn't the sort of change that digital TV has brought us (better colours, more stable picture, more channels, dolby digital, HD etc) this is a serious downgrade!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree

      ... it is a car crash that has already happened. The DAB wrecks line the digital transmission highway. I guess that they can't see the "invisible gorilla."

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DAB is crap

    I bought a DAB radio. The reception is utter rubbish. Drops in and out a lot of very local London stations. If it does that for local stations it will not work at all if you get out in the country a bit.

    Am I supposed to fork out more cash for a dab radio for the car now? And when I go over to Europe? I'm going to have to make sure it's both dab/fm. No point.

  3. Andy 97

    The companies who run the service are (IMHO) a cartel.

    Only a "yoghurt" would choose to point their entire output at this as a channel.

    It's such a shame that the small licensees are not protected from the digital legislation.

    Good job and well done to the operators that chose this opportunity to do this, but I fear it's all a waste of time.

    Maybe they should have engaged The Friends Of Radio 3 in this consultation too, those mad bastards (and you think NIMBY's were a pain in the arse) would get wound-up and march on OFCOM with pitch forks and burning torches if the knew that R3 would possibly loose bandwidth to accommodate even more pop stations.

  4. blackcat

    I have DAB

    Its great. I get no dropouts in the car and I only have a little glass mount antenna.

    The best bit is I don't have to listen to the BBC or capital group stations. I actually get to listen to something good.

    1. Alan 6 Silver badge

      I've got DAB in my car too, works fine with the stubby antenna on the roof, signal doesn't degrade to bubbling mud, it just cuts out.

      I live in rural North Lancashire, bordering Cumbria, and the signal is OK most of the time.

      During the summer it was perfect, I could listen to TMS in crystal clear digital audio, then when I did reach somewhere the DAB signal didn't I could just drop down to 198 Long Wave.

      Yes indeed, the Boost radio in the MINI has DAB and Long Wave, I suspect there's a cricket fan on the MINI design team...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You don't have problems with DAB in a car. Well, Sir, you are either a liar or you don't travel very widely at all.

      1. Alan 6 Silver badge

        I'm not a liar, and I do travel quite a lot, about 2,000 miles a month

        I drive from North of Lancaster to Manchester three times a week, 65 miles each way. The DAB signal drops a couple of times for about 30 seconds.

        If I drive north then it drops more frequently, and that's the point, it drops, it doesn't go to the bubbling mud, it's either there, or it isn't.

        I'm not saying this is the experience everyone will have, but it works for me.

        by the way, at least I've got the guts to use a name, unlike someone who's just called me a liar

        1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

          "by the way, at least I've got the guts to use a name, unlike someone who's just called me a liar"

          Ha! Guts? Really? Brains, no. I wasn't replying to your post I was replying to Blackcat. Oh and that's your real name is it? Alan 6? Strange surname you have there.

          Oh, and I always post anonymously when I'm at work.

          1. Alan 6 Silver badge

            Well that's a good honest name there Grease Monkey, yes I'm called Alan, the number 6 was applied by the El Reg servers, there must be another 5 Alans in here somewhere.

            Interesting how us drivers with DAB radios in our cars are all being down-voted for being honest - yes DAB in cars does work...

      2. blackcat


        "You don't have problems with DAB in a car. Well, Sir, you are either a liar or you don't travel very widely at all."

        I've had DAB in my cars for about the last 9 years and I've been quite far in that time. Its quite nice being able to drive most of the way across the country and never have to retune. There is a dead zone on the M4 where you go between some big hills but that is about it. FM dropped out there as well.

    3. CrossChris

      DAB in the car....

      Perhaps "blackcat" lives in the countryside, in close proximity to a higher powered DAB transmitter and never drives more than five miles in any direction. Most of us don't. Those of us who live in the real world get abysmal DAB "service" at best and it's completely useless in a car in a city.

      DAB is broadcast using ancient technology - it's a corrupted form of MP2 - and wasn't designed for reduced bit-rates. There are NO high quality services on DAB in the UK. Even Radio 3 is of appallingly poor audio quality (despite having the consistently highest bit-rate), and most of the rest are much lower quality mono dreck.

      OFCOM really LOVE the outrageous fees they can charge for DAB, and finance themselves and their inflated salaries by fleecing the station operators.

      1. Markius

        IIt's a good quality radio in the MINI. I have the same car and the same DAB radio. I spend most of my driving time in and around London and the home counties. Coverage is as good as I got on the FM radio in my old car. Of course, if you're tuned into the Essex multiplex and you drive to Hampshire you will lose the signal. That's no different to FM.

        What I like about DAB is the enhanced choice. FM (with a few exceptions) seems to be filled with the same 10 commercial stations no matter where you are. The same playlists, the same message and even the same jingles in a lot of cases. DAB has a lot more smaller stations available and gives me access to a much wider range of music.

        In my opinion DAB is not as good as FM - it's better.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consultation replies

    Looks like they only had 34 responses and I'd expect that its heavily skewed towards the people who want to be negative about DAB and maintain that it is always inherently worse than FM.

    Interestingly couple of weeks ago I was staying in Kew and walked past a new building housing the "Musical Museum" ... looked it up on the web and it looks to be the same colleciton of mechanical musical instruments I visited in another location as a school kid 30-ish years ago where we were shown round by the man who had pulled the collection together. He was absolutely adament that all this new fangled stereo LPs etc could never properly reproduce music and that the only true way to listen to any piano music was via a pianola (mechanical piano) playing from a "recording" (big paper tape recoding timing and pressure of key presses) made by the composer. Doubt he'd would have liked DAB either!

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Bad comparison there

      DAB is demonstrably rubbish and already obsolete in the rest of the world.

      A better comparison would be if OFCOM were insisting we should all replace our pianolas with cylinder recordings, when the rest of the world are using stereo LPs.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DAB Coverage may be what the consultation is/was about but....

    Clearly there is a significant issue that Ofcom is not addressing. Why have the public failed to be convinced of the virtue of DAB?

    If there is not virtue or value in DAB why is it being forced, at public expense, on an unwilling and unreceptive public and broadcasting industry.

    We, the taxpayer, pay for this service that we appear not to want, that is lacking in fundamentals of quality and availability, never mid coverage, and yet are completely ignored when we say "please justify this lunacy and pause until you've got it right". I'm not a Ludite even if this rant may make me seem so. I am, however not at all sure that DAB is as good an idea as the Civil Service techies and mandarins seem to think it is

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      "Why have the public......"?

      Easy one. 'Cos it is of absolutely no benefit whatsoever to them and in many (possibly even most) cases is actually a hinderance.

      The only people who benefit from it are OFCOM, who get to satisfy their objectives and collect their massive bonuses after flogging off the free spectrum as promised and the government, who get the cash.

  7. Tim Baker

    DAB is awesome

    I've been using DAB for 5+ years and currently have 4 DAB radios in my house. They all get fantastic signals and most importantly a wide range of stations that simply aren't on FM. The vast majority of stations use a decent bit rate and give great sound. The only ones that I know are poor Absolute 90's and talkSport.

    If you live in a poor signal area you should be pushing for more transmitters.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Research has shown that the vast majority of radio listeners stick to the same channel all the time. So the greater choice of channels is a red herring. Give most people DAB and they will listen to the same station as they do on FM.

      As for more transmitters I live close to a big transmitter and the signal is fine, but several stations that are available on FM are not available on DAB. Yes there are more stations on DAB overall, but like Freeview and Freesat most of the extra stations are dross. Of the stations that are not available one of them is very popular and is the one that I have as my traffic station in the car. As such DAB would be no use to me in the car for the commute. It's not that we necessarilly need more transmitters, for a start they could do with putting the stations that are on FM on the transmitters they already have.

      I'm lost as to how anybody could need four DAB radios in the house. Presumably you have a PC and digital TV so you have digital radio already and with a wider choice of channels in any room with a PC or TV. And if you have a portable DAB why don't you just take it into the room where you are?

      But you're probably as pro-DAB as you are because you've committed to it so heavilly. For me they could chuck DAB in the bin tomorrow and I wouldn't bat an eyelid. You, on the other hand, probably would.

      1. blackcat

        "Give most people DAB and they will listen to the same station as they do on FM."

        But I can't listen to the 3 or 4 stations I like on FM as they DO NOT EXIST!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Tim Baker

      "If you live in a poor signal area you should be pushing for more transmitters."

      Yeah, because that's likely to work, isn't it?

  8. Jon Press

    The car crash has already happened...

    ... Ofcom's revenue plan is to take on the role of "Claims Direct".

  9. Bert 1

    I Don't use DAB any more

    I have a clock radio with DAB. After far too many mornings being (only just) awoken by a quiet click followed by a resounding silence, I've switched it back to the far more reliable FM.

    To be honest on a clock radio you can't really notice any difference in quality either, especially when it competes with haird driers, electric razors, electric tooth brushes, etc.

    I really wont bother again.

  10. Mage Silver badge

    Switch off FM BandII?

    And what value is the Spectrum for anything else given it's too low a frequency for Cell type management and the Community stations would still be on FM Band II anyway.

    FCC, Ofcom and Comreg have all lost the plot on service planing and spectrum management.

  11. Richard Porter

    DAB = Dead And Buried

    We need a European standard (at least) for digital radio. DAB isn't it. I haven't bought a DAB radio a) because I don't need one and b) because I don't want to add to the statistics.

    I can get digital channels on Freeview (a misnomer because it's not free and half the channels you can't view) and I can record programmes on my PVR. I haven't seen a personal DAB recorder though maybe one exists.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Freeview != Digital Terrestrial TV

      Freeview *is* free.

      The channels that aren't Free are part of DTT, but not part of Freeview. The clue is in the name.

      (PS Satellite TV isn't just Sky, either).

    2. Piloti
      Thumb Down

      @Richard Porter.....

      "We need a European standard (at least) for digital radio"

      Why ? FM is standard all across euro land.

      But this about this : 300 million FM radios, in the UK alone, being dropped in a massive hole in the ground. And being replaced by 300 million Chinese made boxes that do exactly what 90% of people want, play some radio. Which is exactly what FM does now.

      And, you want have to fanny around with your car radio, swapping it for an DAB thing because FM has gone.

  12. StephenD

    DAB is excellent

    Well, not quite, but I thought I'd try to introduce a little balance.

    I have DAB in the car and the range of stations available to me in rural Suffolk is vastly superior to FM - I can actually find things I want to listen to. Possibly the bit rate is poor but I'm afraid I can't tell: it sounds the same as FM most of the time and better the rest.

    I have driven 120,000 miles in the car and have had barely a handful of signal dropouts on national stations. And listening to Test Match Special on Five Live Sports Extra is pleasant and practical - compare with the same programme on Radio 4 long wave where the quality in the car is hideous and I used to get deafened every time I went under a high voltage cable.

    Are too many DAB radios being sold with aerials that aren't up to the job?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yep, a lot of the cheaper units come with crappy wire aerials that you can't even replace. As always you get what you pay for.

    2. Lan ser


      Strange as I live and work each side of the Norfolk/Suffolk border, drive up and down the A140 to work and I maybe get a digital signal for a third of the 15 mile journey at best

      1. StephenD

        I refer you to my comment about aerials not being up to the job. I get an uninterrupted signal between the A14 and Diss; can't comment about further north.

  13. Paul Crawford Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    What is the point?

    Really, what is the point of changing to DAB? Is it any 'better' than FM in a manner that counts to the end user, lets see:

    More channels? Yes, initially, but most were crap and a lot have dropped out now.

    Better sound? No, most are on low bit rate (cheaper, see?) and crap.

    Interference/multipath protection? Partly, but no use if the signal is below threshold anyway.

    Ease of use? Not really, tuning an FM radio is hardly challenging, and short battery life for DAB is a serious loss of 'ease of use'.

    Cheaper? No.

    Ah, FM spectrum worth a bob or two? Maybe, just maybe. But for whom? What service really wants that band and is it of any use to use, the public?

  14. WTFF

    DAB is double crap

    Bought a Sony DAB and filled it with batteries - it ran for about 6 hours giving poor and unstable sound - I can see the local transmitter out of my office window (though it did provide a localised heat source on my desk - why do these thing run so hot?).

    I removed the back of the radio then stabbed the inards with a screwdriver replaced the cover and returned it to the shop next day for a refund.

    Fuck Sony for making such a shitty piece of kit - wasting my time and batteries.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DAB Already DEAD?

    Most new cars dont seem to come with a DAB still? Maybe its a sign?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have no problem with the sound quality on DAB (assuming I'm listening to a station that broadcasts at a reasonable bit rate) nor do I have a problem with reception (I live about a mile from a monster transmitter. What I do have a major problem with is the coverage.

    As I said I live close to a big transmitter, but somebody has chosen not to stick our local BBC station on that transmitter. A such a large part of the county that is covered by that station can't get it on DAB. Worse still like everybody else at the BBC that station is supposed to be promoting DAB. How the hell can they do that when most of their listeners won't be able to listen to them on DAB.

    So the DAB radio that my wife wanted for Christmas spends most of its time on FM. Sometimes it is on DAB to listen to 6 Music, but the problem there is that it's never too long before you get a DJ who gets right on your la las and you have to change channel.

  17. LPF
    Thumb Up

    Sorry but some of these replies are rubbish.

    I have Used DAB in London Milton Kenyes, Luton , Leeds to name a few and for extended periods.

    First thing ARIAL , ARIAL, ARIAL if you dont have a decent one you are screwed. Second it eats power, forget batteries unless they are rechargeable

    Once day is locked in , the sound is crystal.

    For those that don't like it , specify which part of the country you are in , and if you are using portable or fixed radio,

    1. Rusty 1

      Aye, and what's the most decent Arial? Why, it's Helvetica!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reply to post: Sorry but some of these replies are rubbish.

      Maybe using an AERIAL would be more effective in getting a good signal than a typeface

  18. Titus Aduxass
    IT Angle

    Given the choice

    ...I chose DAB every time. I hate the FM high-frequency hiss.

  19. Matthew 3

    Not completely without merit

    Stations that are broadcast in mediumwave or longwave *only* are nicer to listen to on DAB.

    But as soon as you compare with FM, all of the criticisms mentioned above mount up into an insurmountable problem: FM works and DAB doesn't compare well. The few strengths that DAB does offer just aren't enough.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Half the problem.. that DAB in the UK is broadcast at a bitrate that would be shameful even in Eastern Europe. MPEG layer 2 is a crunky old codec, and sounds like arse at the best of times. Unless you're a cloth-eared mope, or you're using DAB to listen in the kitchen while you crash around cooking, it sounds dreadful, compared to a decent FM signal.

    When my main tiner accidentally got switched to DAB, it was smart enough to stay on the same station, so I didn't notice instantly. I became increasingly concerned that it was dying, as it sounded so rough. I was hugely relieved when I noticed that it was just craptastic DAB.

    Really, truly, you're better off with a headless Freeview box to listen to radio, the bitrate is often better.

    (Anon for.. well, *reasons*)

  21. Jonathon Green

    FM blows dead goats

    I have a number of FM radios around the house and none of them give anything like decent stereo reception. The three DAB sets we have on the other hand work beautifully....

    Just in the interests of balance. Yes there are areas where DAB doesn't work very well, conversely there are areas, like my not particularly rural corner of Essex where it seems to be the only way of picking up anything remotely worth listening to and we get better reception of passing aircraft than anything else on FM

    You could quite reasonably argue that assuming it's technically feasible (I've got no idea how the channel allocations would work out) putting more FM transmitters in to improve coverage and improve choice would have been a cheaper/better solution than DAB but DAB's what we got and, having got used to actually having a decent choice of programming I'd be jolly sad to lose it...

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      Yes that's right FM (a technology which has been tried and tested over decades around the world and is accepted as a good quality solution globally) blows goats. Whereas DAB (a technology which has been tested around the world and almost universally rejected) is great.

      DAB is what we've got? No it isn't. An awful lot of people have no DAB reception at all. Take a look at the official coverage map. And the map (as usual) paints a rosier picture than is really the case.

  22. Anonymous Coward 15

    I read somewhere

    that one of the signs of an attack on the UK that our nuclear sub captains watch out for, is the disappearance of BBC radio. Bye bye Moscow...

  23. Chewy

    Local radio

    Isn't it just Heart FM these days?

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      BBC local provides a decent service, but it's not particularly music heavy. Most of the commercial stations have been bought out by Heart or Galaxy as far as I can see, the only local content tending to be the advertising. There how however some exceptions.

      Where I live we can get Penistone FM, it's a small station and some of the DJs are a bit amateurish but it has a good range of music and content. We can also get Ridings FM which is equally amateurish and has no range whatsoever.

  24. JB

    Local commercial radio??

    When was the last time you heard an actual local commercial radio station, broadcast from your own town by local people? The consolidation that's happened in the last 20 years has just created another national broadcaster with a different name in each market.

    Oh, and DAB is poor, I agree. Before I moved out to California, I ad a DAB radio, reception was pretty good but the way the bit rates were being squeezed made it horrible to listen to. Perhaps a system similar to HD Radio in the States, they even have digital radio on medium wave here!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Listened to BRMB and Kerrang (And a bit of Heart FM - the original one of course)

      Admittedly I believe Kerrang is available online (or via DAB) to non-Brummies, but it's still a local station never the less - and all 'Heart' variants have some local content (specifically morning shows) even if most of the material is 'simulcast' across the group.

      The local morning show is what most people would miss though (mainly for traffic news).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      HD radio seems to be catching on in the States - even though it is a proprietary system. I wonder if this is because it uses the existing AM and FM wavebands and transmitters. For a given power, it'll certainly have much greater range than DAB because of the lower frequencies.

      Here in Europe we have Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) which can use the long, medium or short wavebands. The recently released DRM+ can use the FM wavebands too. Both versions are superior to DAB yet few have heard of it. Probably something to do with the DAB lobby sitting on it as they try to force an outdated system on us.

  25. dvd

    Nowt wrong with DAB

    I have 3 DAB radios, 2 in the house and one in the car.

    The reception's fine on all 3 in rural Scotland. The only drop out that I have experienced is on the M8 in Cumbria where I can't get FM either.

    One radio's on its first set of batteries and the other is on its second.

    The only criticism that I have is that the bit rate is too low.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      my geography aint great

      Crikey I'm not suprised the reception on the M8 in Cumbria had dropped out. I presume you mean the M6 South of Tebay services, going through that valley bit, and not somewhere between Glasgow and Edinburgh... ;o) ... I'll get me coat.

  26. Da Weezil


    Had one for a gift, it only works in one corner of the lounge, and only a limited number of stations with hit or miss reception.

    Like many most of my listening is on th emove, the day FM goes I will just use my ipod more, not a luddite, but cant see the point in this bucket of mud. Radio aint broke.. DONT try fixing it leave FM alone.

  27. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Battery life is rubbish on DAB

    when a good ol' FM radio just keeps going.

    Bit rate on DAB is poor, makes me feel my eardrums are dirty.

    The kit is expensive.

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      DAB does not have a poor bit rate. Some stations broadcast in low bit rates, but that's not a limitation of DAB it's that some stations are tight.

      The sound quality with a high bitrate is as good as, if not better than FM. No matter what anybody says you can't hear the difference between a good DAB station and a good FM station. The real issue with sound quality is that lots of areas have poor reception, and the reason for this is that the powers that be won't invest in more infrastructure until more people buy DAB sets. And people won't buy DAB radios until the reception for poor sound quality goes away. A classic catch 22.

      Yes the kit is expensive although there are issues with economies of scale to deal with. The biggest issue with the kit is that it takes much more power to run than FM, hardly fits in with the current vogue for cutting our carbon footprint does it. For your average "tranny" sized radio the decoder in a DAB radio uses more power than the amp. A small FM radio can run for ages on a set of AA batteries, a DAB set on batteries lasts no time at all. The end result being that you need mains. That for me is the biggest limitation of the technology. In the house I'll listen to the "radio" on the TV or the PC. So what use is there for a radio? Well I have an old battery powered FM radio that comes with me to the garden on the garage. With DAB I'd need an extension lead.

      1. Christopher Slater-Walker

        "It's not a limitation of DAB..."

        I think it is a limitation of DAB, that is, the implementation of DAB in this country. Too many stations using too little bandwidth. We seem to have taken a technological step backwards, from stereo to mono in certain cases, from quality FM sound to compressed DAB sound, from wide coverage to limited coverage, from low power consumption to high consumption, etc. etc.

  28. Liam Thom

    In its defence...

    DAB good, FM good.

    They are both working side by side now. Lots of choice. Why bugger it up and turn off the FM signal and deprecate a billion transistors? Let's just keep it as it is with FM filling the gaps and DAB providing a much better service where it is available.

    The only change needed is extending the range of BBC stations on DAB.

  29. s. pam

    a little DAB won't do me

    I used some adhesive to hold the front cycle wings on my Caterham...a little DAB of adhesive here, a little DAB of adhesive there.

    MarlowFM is a magically bizarre community radio, DAB is arse fodder. I know which one is on in my garage!

  30. David 45
    Thumb Down

    A con

    It's my opinion that DAB was/is the biggest con. ever perpetuated on the great British listening public. I was an early adopter, seduced by the promises of "near-CD quality" and user-adjustable compression (whatever happened to THAT idea?) but what do we get? More and more stations shoe-horned in with ever-decreasing bit-rates (one station in MONO, for goodness' sake!). Sound quality is worse then FM and the hideous amount of audio processing and compression that is still applied makes it painful to listen to. I complained to good ol' toothless OFCOM about that and got some waffle back about the majority of listeners listening in noisy environments such as cars that appears to justify (according to them) the butchering of the audio. Hmm.

  31. Bob H


    DAB is an ancient technology and DAB+ is just a patch on a limited tool. The transmission system is based on designs which represented the limitations of 25 year-old silicon.

    I know quite a few people have already invested in DAB radios and the politicians don't want to admit it's crap. Frankly it needs a succession plan and soon so that we can plan ahead.

    About 20 months ago the technology for Freeview HD called DVB-T2 was launched upon Britain and has all the latest techniques, and yet because of the volumes produced it could actually be cheaper than DAB is now. BBC Research & Development has been working on DVB-T2 "lite" which could be used in radios, and I know of at least two countries who are planning to deploy digital radio using T2 technology.

    Lets stop DAB where it is, don't expand it or invest in it, and roll out T2 lite for radio. It could even be compatible with Freeview HD receivers already in TVs/STBs!

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      The problem they have with that is that there is no technology which is backwards compatible. IOW they would have to replicate all the stations across DAB and whatever replacement they choose. They can't simply switch off DAB anymore than they are going to switch off FM in 2015 (they're not BTW).

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DAB in cars - don't make me laugh

    Speaking as a DAB operator (so I have to hide my identity from my bosses) -

    We lost DAB coverage to about half of a major British city recently. It took 4 days for ANYONE to raise a complaint!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I own a Dab set with a decent Aerial

    Never use it. The choice is minimal and the quality is dreadful.

    I now use Broadband radio and it's just the dog's danglies. A world of choice and decent quality.

    If FM blows dead goats then DAB blows the peanuts out of dead goats droppings!

    I vote we keep FM and drop DAB.

    1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

      I suspect that before too long it will be announced that there will be no more investment in DAB infrastructure. Probably thereafter as takeup stalls stations will start to drop off DAB as they realise that the costs are too high when offset against listener numbers, and for commercial station advertising benefits. And then we'll have another commons committee reporting, in a few years time, that DAB was a huge waste of money and a poorly managed project from day one.

      DAB listening figures won't shoot up any time soon. Particularly when you bear in mind that for loads of cars DAB is a cost option (and an extremely costly one at that) and that most people only listen to the radio in the car these days.

      If Ofcom and the government want DAB takeup to improve then they really must come up with some sort of incentive. Subsidies for DAB in cars would be a start. But their figures for takeup are flawed anyway. They are based on the number of DAB cpabale sets sold. They don't take into account how many of those are never used at all or never used on DAB. And I'm not just talking about people using them to listem to FM, my old fella has a DAB capable machine that is only ever used to play CDs. However I think in the real world it's gone on for far too long and they should just admit they made a bad decision and let it die a slow, quiet, but still undignified, death over the next couple of decades.

  34. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Ofcom is still beating the remnants of a stain...

    ...where a dead horse used to be.

  35. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Ofcom seem to think it will be like the moving to digital TV.

    Except Digital TV seems to give better picture quality, has full UK coverage and offers more channels than analogue TV.

    So how does the DAB alternative compare.

    Better quality? Seems doubtful.

    As good coverage. Not if they are talking about increasing the number of transmitters by 3x.

    More channels. Apparently. But whose *listening* to them now?

    So it looks like Ofcom think Radio is just like TV.

    Only it's not.*

    And I've not mentioned the battery life issues with DAB radio Vs Analogue FM. I'd like to see a DAB radio powered by a button cell. That *would* be impressive.

    The fail is strong with this concept.

  36. Herby


    For digital sakes is a fools proposition. Unfortunately we here in the USA have had this thing called DTV foisted on us, and even in a wonderfully hilly area (the SF bay area) unless you are in the right spot (luckily I am) the channels pixelate and drop out all over the place.

    We also have some silly digital radio thing that (from what I'm told) all the stations are waiting to take off the air, as they don't work very well, given multipath and all that!

  37. Harmless

    Multiplex Idea killed it

    It wouldn't be so bad for Local Radio if they could have single programme transmissions, but DAB uses swathes of radio spectrum to broadcast several programmes in one radio transmission - requiring sharing a multiplex between different broadcasters.

    Local Radio needs to be able to just shove a transmitter up and radiate their own programme and nothing else.

    That alone doomed DAB from the start, quite apart from the syndrome of : "we've got xx bytes per second to play with, how can we get most profit from it? Yeah, let's squeeze the bitrates down to a bare minimum, the cloth-eared audience won't notice". And the power needed to make it work, batteries not lasting long. And most people are happy with FM. And so on and so on.

  38. micheal

    Sounds like an old argument between a brit entrepeneur and an antipodean chap

    No one will want your old 450 line satellite picture when for 3 times the price they can have hidefinition, they wont want an ugly dish on their house when they can have an expensive squariel.

    DAB will die a slow death soon, 30 million pensioners wont spend 3 weeks pension money on a new fangled wireless.

    CD's have been around 30 years yet record players and gramaphones still sell,

    No "think of the pensioners" icon?

  39. Roger Mew

    What seems to have been missed by many of the readers is that being of a higher frequency it will get bounced around by buildings people who lived near the railway at Bury st Edmunds can confirm that with being able to count train carriages on their TV by signal ghosting, also there is the fact that as the range is less there will have to be more relays which will not happen in the country, the drop of is sharp, one minute good signal pass a tree and you have lost it, but the best of all, the REALLY good bit:- well the system used by the UK is actually dead in the water as a more recent and better system has been adopted by the rest of the world.

    I guess that you could say the UK has invented a squre wheel.

    The audio will be manure as to compress it into digital is bad enough, however the station buys a frequency so can put 1, 2, 3 or even more stations on it. The more you put on it the more advertising you can sell and oh yes the more degraded the system.

    If you have bought DAB then you are rich, have too much money, or live in cuckoo land.

    If you really want digital then get it from Free sat or Sky, as its not fit for purpose mobile make sure your car does not have it.

    Incidentally if you are getting a new car specify it with an SD card reader, not a disc. If they cannot then without, as a radio FM and SD card reader is a LOT cheaper than a disc.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re - FM Blows Goats


    With FM you can manage quite nicely for a fortnight with a portable FM radio running on a couple of AA batteries - which I do each year at the TT races on the Isle of Man. There is absolutely no problem with signal quality - the commentary is perfectly audible even on small sets.

    If you had a DAB radio, you would need to plug the thing in to a mains supply to keep it powered, which isn't going to happen when you're living for a week in a tent in a paddock, and then you have to consider the signal quality given the surrounding mountainous terrain.

    I notice most of the above comments saying DAB is good were using either home or car solutions, which have access to a permanent power source and a good antenna. FM is used any many other environments, where I suspect it will be DAB which ends up blowing the proverbial goat.

    I really don't understand where the problem is that DAB is attempting to solve. It clearly must be one of QUANGO funding rather than public access to radio stations.

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