dab digital radio

Broadcast Asia (Part 3) – A Tale of Two (DAB) Cities

This is my last post inspired by Broadcast Asia and Singapore.

The story of DAB Digital Radio in Singapore starts almost identically to that in the UK. The launch of DigitalOne was on the 15th November 1999; Singapore launched DAB four days later. Both launches brought a mix of existing, established, analogue services and brand new digital only services. Coverage is pretty good in both places (although I believe Singapore manages to cover it’s population with two transmitters compared to the 120 that DigitalOne uses).

In my opinion, the Singaporean implementation of DAB is more innovative than what we’ve seen in the UK so far. Most of the DAB services have Slideshow visuals, transmitting genuinely useful information, and in addition to the free-to-air DAB from MediaCorp (on two ensembles) , Redeffusion (a nostalgic name to us Brits) also provides a selection of subscription radio via DAB (including Classic fm and FUN Radio from the UK).

The stark divergence between the UK DAB story and the Singaporean DAB story is brought home by a wander round Sim Lim, the consumer electronics mecca. Amongst the hundreds of shops selling virtually every single consumer electronics devices known to man (or indeed, ripped off) I couldn’t find a single DAB Digital Radio device. Not one.

I’ve heard a lot of explanations for this, but many of them highlight the disparity between MediaCorp’s investment in the technology of DAB, but reluctance to enthuse about the benefits of changing from digital to analogue. It’s a common problem, but at some point you have to question the wisdom of investing in a platform you’re not prepared to promote or migrate people to.

I hope that the situation in Singapore changes, because in terms of technology and product, they’re doing many things better than the UK. They just need to get over that final hurdle, and start telling Singaporeans to buy DAB Digital Radios.

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