DMB Phones in South Korea

A Comeback for Digital Radio?

There may be life after death for DAB in Sweden.

Digital Audio Broadcasting was developed in Europe as the digital successor to FM. (It hasn’t been adopted in the United States because its method of sharing spectrum fits the European model of public broadcasting, and goes against the American model of rival commercial stations.) The system has been most successful in Britain, where it is usually just called Digital Radio.

Next to Britain, Sweden has had the most developed DAB system in the world, but it has been held by the lack of receivers in stores. Just as the first models began to appear here in shops here last Christmas, the Swedish government  on funding to the project, wiping out Swedish Radio’s digital plans.

Now Swedish Radio News reports that DAB 2.0, or Digital Multimedia Broadcast, may be the future. It permits three times as many channels in the same spectrum space, offers new services like video and data file transfer, and uses the networks that are already in place. Commercial DMB is already up and running in South Korea.

So far Swedish Radio has not made any plans to switch from DAB to DMB, but when the international DAB forum probably changes its name from  to  next month, that might provide the impetus for some new thinking.

One obstacle might be Sweden’s new center-right Swedish government. The Conservative Moderates, which will have have more seats in parliament that all their coalition partners combined, have never been fans of public broadcasting, and may be more likely to try to sell off parts of the existing Swedish Radio and cut budgets, rather than invest more money to strengthen public broadcasting in the digital future.


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