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DeutschlandRadio ditches original DAB standard

Germany's national public broadcaster has confirmed it is ending the last national broadcasts of the old DAB digital radio standard next month.

From 1st June 2016, DeutschlandRadio will switch DeutschlandFunk to DAB+, the newer, more bandwidth efficient digital radio format that doesn't suffer from 'bubbling mud' sounds in weak reception areas.

The station is currently the only national service to still be using the old DAB standard in Germany, a relic from the country's former DAB service that subsequently relaunched and adopted the DAB+ standard in 2011. Older DAB radio sets will no longer be able to receive any digital services across most of the country. Only services from Saarland's public radio service, on the German-French border remain active in the old DAB format.

In the UK, DAB+ has only just started to take off, with Fun Kids, Jazz FM Stereo and Magic Chilled adopting the new standard on the recently launched Sound Digital (D2) multiplex, plus a handful of stations on local and trial multiplexes, including Chris Country on the NE Wales and Cheshire (Wrexham, Chester, Liverpool) multiplex. Many non-DAB+ radios will just fall silent when attempting to access a DAB+ service.

For DeutschlandRadio, it's the second major technical advance in less than six months - the broadcaster turned off its last AM outlets at the end of 2015 in favour of developing its digital radio presence, which also includes DeutschlandRadio Kultur, DRadio Wissen and part-time station DokDeb.

  • Over in Switzerland, the national broadcaster SRG SSR has outlined plans in the past week which will see the FM transmission network being decommissioned in a phased move starting 2020. Here, DAB+ will take over as the standard method of receiving radio terrestrially, following in the footsteps of Norway, which is due make the switch next year.