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BBC National Radio in DAB+ ...but not in the UK

Five BBC radio stations are being transmitted in the new DAB+ standard as part of a cable-based test distribution of DAB digital radio in Switzerland.

Swiss cable operator UPC has been trialling DAB+ via cable in localised tests over the past 18 months, but a change to frequency allocations on the 7th September has paved the way for DAB+ rollout on their cable network.

BBC Radios 1, 2, 3, 4 and the World Service are joined on the test multiplex by a number of stations from France, Germany, Austria and Italy with a DAB+ bitrate of 56kbps per station using HE-AACv1 sound.

The tests follow the rollout of DAB+ on Lausanne's Citycable network, which includes BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2.

In the UK, these stations are currently only available in 'original flavour' DAB.

Previously on hidden frequencies outside of the standard DAB waveband, the UPC tests have now been spotted on regular DAB frequencies on the cable network in Z├╝rich (block 5C).

UPC have acknowledged the tests as taking place but cannot confirm any further information at this stage. Ultimately 70 DAB+ stations are planned via UPC's network. Only DAB+ receivers with a slot to plug in an external aerial, and thus able to hook up to cable, would be able to make use of the service. UPC plans to offer capable receivers in the future.

Switzerland is set to become the second country after Norway to go through a digital radio switchover and cable operators are looking at replacing cable FM services with DAB+. There has been no indication in the UK of any cable-based DAB+ service being in development. UK cable uses the DVB-C standard for TV and radio distribution.


  1. Could someone please explain what is a good quality DAB+ bit rate. Is 56kbps better than 128kbps DAB? What rate is required to improve on Radio 3's 192 kbps.

  2. A fair ballpark is that AAC (which DAB+ uses) is twice as efficient as older codecs like MP2 (which DAB uses) and MP3. So to be equivalent to 128kbps on DAB you'd need about 64kbps AAC on DAB+. I still don't regard that as acceptable sound quality personally.

    If you try to refine it closer than a factor of 2 you get into discussions about HE-AAC vs. plain AAC and other minor tweaks and it all becomes very subjective.

  3. 48kbps DAB+ is cited within the industry as being equivalent to 128kbps DAB.

  4. I listened to the new union Jack station today which seemed to be using DAB+ at 24kbps. It sounded 'ok'. Clearly not as good as 128kbps, but it did sound better than Absolute Radio at 80kbps (mono)


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