Norway to switch from FM to DAB in 2017

Norway is to become the first country in the world to switch off FM transmissions in favour of DAB digital radio in a move that has been welcomed by industry leaders in Norway and in the UK.

Norway's  Ministry of Culture announced on Thursday that FM switch-off would commence on 11th January 2017, with a region-by-region switchover running until 13th December 2017.

DAB coverage in Norway already exceeds FM coverage. Digital radio provides access to 22 national stations, compared to just 5 national FM stations. Norway uses the DAB+ standard for its service.

As reported by the website, NRK, P4 Group and SBS Radio will turn off all its FM broadcasts simultaneously in two of six regions. In four regions however, NRK Radio will lead the way in FM-switch off.

Thor Gjermund Eriksen, head of Norwegian Public Service Broadcaster  NRK, said:
"This is an important day for everyone who loves radio. The minister`s decision allows us to concentrate our resources even more upon what is most important, namely to create high quality and diverse radio-content to our listeners."

Industry leaders welcomed the news:

Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK responded to this morning's announcement saying:
“Norway was the first country to switchover to digital TV and we expect their announcement of a 2017 radio switchover to signal the start of a transition to digital radio across a number of European markets. In the UK the Government believes the future of radio is digital, and we are making good progress on achieving the agreed switchover coverage and listening criteria.” 

Patrick Hannon, President of WorldDMB said that Norway was sending a 'clear signal' to the world regarding digital radio:
“This announcement is a key milestone in the development of digital radio. It sends a clear signal to Europe and the rest of the world that digital radio is the platform of the future. Norway’s success has been based on a clear plan and strong commitment from broadcasters, policy makers and manufacturers.”

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  1. And the madness starts here. Switching off a good service like FM in favour of a bad service like DAB makes no sense technically or for consumers. It only benefits industry that wants to sell new hardware to people listening happily on their 30 year old radio or the one that came with their car.

    The FM spectrum isn't useful for governments to sell off either, it propagates too far to be used for mobile data (the gorilla that seems set to consumer all useful spectrum, as if nothing else matters).

  2. DAB+ would be a good service and even DAB at the higher bit rates is better overall than FM. Most DAB radios in this country are DAB+ ready. We just need the Government to get on with the switch over and stop worrying about the few who will moan about having to get a new radio. It's called progress!

    1. My six year old Arcam FM/DAB tuner cannot handle DAB+. It will cost me around £500 to buy an equivalent quality replacement that can. I suspect I would just abandon DAB instead, and use online streaming.

    2. And you are wrong when you say most DAB radios in the UK can handle DAB+, it's pretty much the reverse ie. most can't.

  3. I think there’s a fair amount of spin attached to this story. From what I’ve read those most likely to benefit will be the two foreign owned broadcasters MTG and SBS whilst all the local radio in Norway which is all Norwegian owned are firmly against. Also there will be no “FM switch off” as local commercial radio and community stations outside the five largest cities will still be broadcasting in FM. State intervention will be needed for the transition to DAB+ and not driven by the free market and Norwegian listeners will be forced to replace their receivers if they want to continue listening to Radio NRK and the two commercial networks. Millions of Nordic visitors (tourists and business – buses, trucks etc.) will not be able to listen to the national radio stations for information or alerts etc. as FM will remain dominant throughout the rest of Scandinavia. To overcome this, unbelievably the DAB lobby group has said that they will sell DAB convertors at the border! If that isn’t an admission of the country making the wrong decision I don’t what is.