Ofcom published an interesting report today, based on a technical trial it has carried out, about the opportunity of operating small, single-site, low powered digital radio multiplexes.
An Ofcom associate from its Spectrum Planning Group used off-the-shelf technology and open-source software to assemble and broadcast a multiplex to cover part of Brighton. According to the report the tests went very well and open up the option of mini-muxes, covering similar areas to small ILRs or community stations.
It’s still quite a way away from being deployed in the wild, as there would need to be significant frequency planning into likely availability and discussions about where it fits from a regulatory-basis.
The multiplexes that we broadcast are quite different to the one trialed in Brighton – we cover much larger areas (the size of the local BBC and main ILR stations) – broadcasting from many different transmitter sites at higher signal strengths. We think this works well as it means more people can hear a service if it broadcasts over a larger area and also supports listeners as they drive across an area listening in-car.
However, for some smaller operators who want a digital berth, particularly for fixed in-home listening, but don’t want to (or aren’t able) to be on a county-wide multiplex, we think this concept sounds like a good idea.
We think it’s important that as we approach a digital switchover, that lots of stations have the chance to be on DAB – this seems an interesting route for some to start their journey.