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DAB: Sound Digital expansion roll-out ahead of schedule

Weeks after the first listeners reported receiving Sound Digital tests for the first time, it has been confirmed that the roll-out is ahead of schedule.

Sound Digital, the national commercial DAB multiplex operated by Arqiva, Bauer and Wireless, has announced that its expansion programme of 19 new transmitters is nearing completion, with the first of the extended coverage areas due to go live in the coming weeks.

First announced in May 2018, the expansion of the Sound Digital network was originally expected to be completed towards the end of the year, however tireless work by the project’s joint venture partners has resulted in that date being bought forward. The project will add coverage in areas including South West England, South Wales, East Anglia, Kent and North East Scotland.

Listeners in the Devon/Cornwall border area have confirmed receiving intermittent tests in the past few days.

The new coverage areas will bring the 19 Sound Digital stations, which include Mellow Magic, Kisstory, Jazz FM, Virgin Radio, talkRADIO, and talkSPORT 2, Forces Radio BFBS, Sunrise Radio and Union Jack, to nearly four million more people and over 1.6m new households, increasing aggregate UK coverage from 77% to 83%.

Arqiva will post updates showing which of the new transmitters has entered regular service on its website.

Sound Digital is the first national multiplex in the UK to use DAB+ technology for some of its services.

Steve Holebrook, Managing Director – Terrestrial Broadcast, Arqiva, said:
“The popularity of the Sound Digital Network has grown significantly since its launch two years ago and its always been our target to bring its selection of high-quality stations to more people in the UK.
“The task of connecting as many new listeners to the network in the most efficient way possible has been complex, so it is especially gratifying that we will complete the expansion ahead of schedule. We are delighted to now be bringing the network’s diverse range of content to almost 4 million new listeners.”

Dee Ford, Group Managing Director of Radio (UK Division) at Bauer, said:
“Bauer continues to lead the field in digital radio listening because we understand the music passions and interests of our listeners.
“We are proud to be the home of the UK’s most listened to commercial digital radio station – KISSTORY, broadcasting on the Sound Digital mux. This month, we also welcomed the much-loved Jazz FM into the Bauer Radio family of services also available on Sound Digital. The expansion of Sound Digital coverage will bring Bauer’s great brands into the lives of an even wider audience.”

Scott Taunton, Chief Executive of Wireless said:
“It has been a busy few months for Wireless and this announcement is timely and most welcome.
“We recently announced that Chris Evans is coming home to Virgin Radio, Matthew Wright and Jeremy Kyle have joined the talkRADIO ranks, and talkSPORT is bringing exclusive radio coverage of England’s cricket tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies. There is no shortage of engaging, exclusive and entertaining content across our stations and this announcement ensures we will now reach a larger audience”.