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Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) - Radio broadcasting for the 21st century

Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) owes its development to a EUREKA project initiated in 1986 by a team of European partners from the UK, France, Germany and The Netherlands. The aim of the project was to investigate the possibilities of using digital technology to transmit radi...

Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) owes its development to a EUREKA project initiated in 1986 by a team of European partners from the UK, France, Germany and The Netherlands. The aim of the project was to investigate the possibilities of using digital technology to transmit radio signals. DAB, the system they developed, is now due to come on-line, later this year, to more than 100 million Europeans. DAB allows the transmission of compact disc-quality sound and provides a constant signal independent of geographic position. It also allows pictures and text to be received as well as normal programmes. The principle is simple. The radio signal is digitally recorded, compacted and placed in a multiplex or "block" of frequencies reserved on the radio spectrum for DAB broadcasting. DAB works by combining two digital technologies - MUSICAM and COFDM (Coded Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex). The transmission of DAB programmes has already been initiated in the UK by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the UK partner in the project. So far 25% of the UK can receive digital radio programmes, a figure that is set to rise to 60% in 1998 when a further 22 transmitters come on line. In France, Radio France has signed an initial agreement to provide DAB coverage to 25% of the population and Radio France International, in partnership with the BBD, Radio Netherlands and Deutsche Welle, is conducting a number of pilot projects across Germany with the aim of near-complete coverage by the year 2000. Many other European countries are putting in place a framework for DAB broadcasting, with Belgium and Hungary planning to begin broadcasts some time this year. DAB is a truly European project with technology and ideas being shared between the project partners. The European DAB Forum (soon to be extended across the globe to become a World Forum) is at the forefront of the new medium and has made significant breakthroughs regarding the features available on DAB receivers. Major European and Japanese manufacturers are already developing DAB sets for the car and home and these are expected to be followed by portable units.