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Ofcom consults on Digital One Northern Ireland extension

Ofcom has today launched a consultation into Arqiva's plans to extend the national commercial digital radio multiplex Digital One into Northern Ireland.

Under plans received by the regulator, Digital One would be expanded using the VHF frequency block 11D - the frequency used by the digital service in England and Wales - and would broadcast across the province from transmitters at Brougher Mountain, Carnmoney Hill, Divis, Limavady, Derry/Londonderry and Strabane.

The plans would allow stations including Absolute Radio, Absolute 80s, BFBS, Jazz FM and Smooth Radio to be available in Northern Ireland on DAB digital radio for the first time. Approximately 74% of households would fall within the coverage area of the extended multiplex, with 70% of the Northern Irish road network within range of the service.

The extension of the service would lead to duplication of services between the existing Northern Ireland "Score Digital" multiplex and the new national service: TalkSPORT and Classic FM are carried on both multiplexes. It is still unknown what could happen in the long term, but there is a possibility that the duplicated stations could be removed off the Northern Ireland DAB multiplex to free up room for other new stations.

The plans to extend Digital One coverage into Northern Ireland follows the end of technical and legal restrictions preventing the national commercial digital multiplex from broadcasting in Northern Ireland. Last year's digital switchover lifted any concerns about interference with analogue VHF TV signals from the Republic of Ireland, and the Digital Economy Act 2010 permitted Arqiva to request the extension.

Ofcom is legally required to seek representations on the request from any interested parties, and the consultation being held until 14th March allows interested parties to exercise their legal entitlement.

Also from a516digital:
Technical Information: Digital One's Northern Ireland extension: transmitters and coverage map  >
Digital One expands into Northern Ireland: the consultation questions >


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