Brighton becomes home to first DAB+ only multiplex in the UK
The small-scale digital radio multiplex serving Brighton and Hove has become the first multiplex in the UK to completely convert all of its services to the newer DAB+ broadcast standard.
The last station to still use the original standard of DAB on the multiplex, Juice 107.2, switched to stereo DAB+ this week. For listeners with older DAB radios, Juice is duplicated in original DAB on the Sussex local DAB multiplex in mono, and is also available on FM 107.2.
Listeners in Brighton now have a choice of over a dozen DAB+ stations, including Angel Vintage, MiSoul and Smile Sussex. DAB+ allows more stations to fit on each multiplex, and allows more stations to operate in stereo.
The Brighton and Hove small-scale DAB multiplex is one of ten locations where a service has been licenced by Ofcom to test out the low-cost technology involved in distributing radio stations on DAB. Brighton was where the technology underpinning small-scale DAB was first piloted by Ofcom engineer Rashid Mustapha in 2012 and 2013. Small-scale DAB is seen as a key way of getting niche and community stations on DAB due to the high cost of carriage on traditional local multiplexes.
Since the launch of small-scale DAB in the UK, the multiplexes have been at the forefront of the adoption of DAB+, with small-scale multiplexes serving Portsmouth and Manchester now predominately carrying stations using DAB+.
Legislation to make small-scale DAB multiplexes a permanent part of the UK radio landscape, enabling Ofcom to issue new licences covering more of the UK, has reached Committee Stage in the House of Lords having cleared the House of Commons without objection.
The rise of DAB+ in the UK
The first major trial of DAB+ on a regular multiplex took place in late 2014 when children's radio station Fun Kids broadcast using the new standard on the Wrexham, Chester & Liverpool multiplex. Then in 2016, the UK's second national commercial multiplex, Sound Digital, launched with three DAB+ services. Since then, the London 2 multiplex has also started carrying a DAB+ service. The drive to DAB+ has so far been led by smaller, niche stations: most larger radio groups have been thus far reluctant to embrace the newer standard.
DAB+ is the normal standard for DAB services in most other European countries.