Switchdigital fills London DAB+ slot
Digital radio station Asian FX has switched to the newer DAB+ standard in London, creating the first permanent DAB+ service on one of the main DAB digital radio multiplexes serving the capital.
The switch took place at midnight into Tuesday 13th December, in a move that also made the station available in stereo on HE-AACv2 compatible DAB+ radios. The bitrate is 32kbps. Listeners without a DAB+ compatible device will not be able to hear the station.
Asian FX broadcasts on the Switchdigital-owned London II multiplex, transmitted on VHF Block 12A. The multiplex also houses stations including BBC Radio London, Chris Country and Absolute Radio 70s, broadcast in the regular DAB standard.
Switchdigital first advertised the DAB+ capacity back in May 2016, making it the first major multiplex operator serving London to embrace the newer broadcast standard, which would create sufficient capacity for more stations to launch services on the digital radio platform. The London II multiplex has the highest coverage area of any of the three London multiplexes, with coverage extending across the south of the Anglia region through London and into many parts of the South East.
However some radio enthusiasts claim the 32kbps bandwidth for the DAB+ HE-AACv2 audio service is "the bare minimum", pointing to the higher bitrates allocated to continental broadcasters using DAB+.
The lack of DAB+ adoption among major multiplex operators is frustrating some in the industry. Last week, as part of a bid to get Ofcom to licence a second main multiplex for Manchester, Jason Bryant, Executive Chairman of Nation Broadcasting went on the record as indicating that the lack of ambition to adopt DAB+ at CE Digital (the operator of the Manchester multiplex) is "stifling innovation".
Meanwhile, London's small-scale DAB multiplex along with a number of other such low-power, low coverage, low cost "mini-muxes" have led the way with DAB+ adoption, with DAB+ becoming the norm on small-scale multiplexes serving central Manchester and Portsmouth.