Digital Radio - Technical

It wouldn’t have been cheap for the ABC to set it up at Launceston just to do tests?

It would have made more sense to use the Gold Coast site for tests and then launch that since it was going to be used anyway.


Wouldn’t be cheap, but probably cheapest, Gold Coast was already fully planned, TXA quoted the ABC Gold Coast DAB install 18 months - 2years ago, there was also 5 or 6 infill translator sites around the Gold Coast, the current installation doesn’t have them included, I think BAI told the ABC they wouldn’t be doing them unless they were absolutely necessary for coverage?

Theoretically you can’t do testing on an approved broadcast licence, IIRC the Launceston licence is a Scientific test licence?


Canberra was in that weird position for years with a temporary license that seemed to carry a nominal test station - but otherwise be treated as a full broadcast service.

Until anyone in regulation engages with the issue of delivering local ABC in 2 blocks of spectrum nationwide, we’re never going to get proper coverage. Every service like the Gold Coast that’s planned ignoring that reality will only make it harder.

Gold Coast kinda gets lucky in that a break in SFN would be needed there anyway to allow for a Tweed Heads service to be on NSW time - but it would be dumb to plan a Newcastle service before sorting out how exactly you put a Gosford service in the middle, etc. Canberra was far enough away that you can plan it on the metro 9C allocation, but Newcastle won’t be.

Tasmania is kinda the best case, where it’s a common timezone and only two programs to contend with - so you can take the Gold Coast approach of including both. Everywhere else you eventually have to deal with whether DAB+ Windowing could work, putting 5 different ABC local radio services on the multiplex if it doesn’t, or finally allocating Category 2 licenses but then be at the mercy of commercial radio whims.


I think the intention/planning is that Newcastle / Campbelltown share 2 frequencies, and Wollongong/Gosford share another 2 frequencies (from 5 available frequencies).

Wollongong would operate from Brokers Nose, not Knights Hill to limit it’s coverage.


That’s the commercial planning, which is also pretty unachievable in practice, but has some flexibility. Unless something changes the ABC are stuck with 2 blocks - 9C and 8B - so have to use them alternately in SFN.


My understanding is that the 2 frequencies in each of Newcastle, Gosford, Wollongong would be 1 x commercial, 1 x ABC (also noting all other DAB markets except SYD, MEL, BNE also only get 1 commercial DAB frequency).


Interesting comments there.

I would actually be happier if my tax dollars went to an increase in ABC/SBS funding to roll out DAB in the bigger regional markets , as well as some subsidies for CRA to roll out DAB in the larger regional markets too.

There is a change of leadership at the ABC, so things may change in regards to a DAB rollout, but an election is less than a year away, so we probably won’t know what will happen until after Albo is re-elected.

I agree that DRM will probably never happen, as AJ1 said in a previous discussion, that horse bolted a long time ago. DRM would have been viable if it had launched at the same time as DAB back in 2009.


The frequencies don’t exist to achieve that. is the current unachievable mess,

This is a best effort from me of the kind of thing it would entail - just looking around the Sydney region. I’ve mapped the channels to their display numbers as the ACMA document numbers them strangely. The random circles aren’t close to what coverage ranges/interference would be.


I agree that it’s not very good planning.

My preference is for the ABC to have 1 SFN frequency per state (and Local Radio be carried on the commercial mux) and then that leaves 5 frequencies to be shared between commercial radio licence areas. One of those 5 might also be needed to counter time zone issues for the ABC mux around Northern Rivers/Gold Coast etc.

Whether that is achievable is another thing altogether.


Looking at the map, I can see the trouble this would cause during coastal summer tropo events with loads of interference to the point that it may be impractical for those allocations. Especially with Gosford and Wollongong or Newcastle and Campbelltown. I mean we all know what happens with Newcastle/Wollongong DTV interference. Unless we have a 2014 like restack where the use of the VHF band of Television is abandoned and moved to UHF (although you might have similar problems with interference during tropo, not to mention needing more relays due to the shorter wavelengths of UHF) DAB will be stuck as this small cluster of frequencies with two transmitters on the same frequency being about 150km away.


The thing is with Campbelltown, yes it is it’s own radio market, but does it need DAB, would it ever get it?
Campbelltown is within the Sydney radio licence area is served by ABC Sydney, not ABC Illawarra & it already has it’s own Sydney DAB infill translator at Mt Badgally, which is to serve the Macarthur area with the signal specifically aimed at the Campbelltown CBD area.

With C91.3 being the only commercial station in the area, WIN would have to take all the costs to build & operate a DAB transmitter in the area, just for them, ARN wouldn’t put WSFM on it as they already have a service on the Sydney one, & the ABC wouldn’t put anything there either for the same reasons. Personally I’d take any allocated DAB frequencies out of Campbelltown’s use, if DAB came to the Illawarra, I’d put C91.3 on that commercial multiplex.


Most DAB radios have an FM radio as well. It’s the same with Katoomba and Penrith as well. In my view any overlap you don’t need DAB (Penrith having its own DAB channel just for Penrith).

Somewhere like Lithgow perhaps should have. Perhaps 2LT would need a repeater for DAB up the mountain. The Edge can also be part of that Multiplex at low power. Although The Edge getting coverage in Lithgow town itself might be considered as “unfair”.

Someone probably needs to redraw the licence lines for DAB.


Only problem with that is you can’t have stations at different power levels on the same multiplex, if The Edge (which I’m guessing you’re talking CADA?) is on the same “mountains or Lithgow” DAB multiplex as 2LT & Move it will have to be at the same power level & coverage, though any station could run different error correction, to get better or worse coverage areas.
But then does CADA need to be, it’s on ARN’s Sydney DAB multiplex so gets coverage in Penrith & lower Blue Mountains via the Winmalee infill translator.


Sorry yes CADA. The Wimmalee covers “Penrith” under the Sydney multiplex then the low power would be technically adequate for the upper mountains as Sydney DAB isn’t always perfect up there. Although I might be making the “wrong assumption” CADA will always be on the Sydney Multiplex to provide adequate coverage in Penrith. It’s purely an ownership anomaly or loop hole it is on air on DAB. There is no way they would be allowed to broadcast at full power to cover Sydney under 96.1 FM , yet under DAB it doesn’t matter. DAB and ownership rules have certainly muddy the waters for a station like CADA. It comes back to the question will every commercial radio station get access to DAB?

Assuming yes , should ACMA give a free pass to C91.3 / CADA will get DAB space in the Sydney wide licence no matter who owns the stations. In the case of CADA they might be allowed to join the “Lithgow” multiplex to provide better coverage in the upper mountains, with spill over into “Lithgow”.

Is “The River 94.9FM” on DAB up in brissy?


I think you’ll find with CADA, ARN we’re very smart in how they went about putting it on air.

Essentially there was 96.1 The Edge which was the FM station broadcasting from Katoomba, then there was a separate channel called “The Edge Digital” which was rolled out nationally on DAB.

It had mostly cross programming from 96.1, including the advertising, but as it was a separate station, ARN didn’t breach any of the rules.

I remember listening to it on DAB in Brisbane when it first came on air in 2009 and listening to the Sydney ads was quite interesting!

River 94.9 could in theory have the same thing apply, and they have done this in Hobart with 7HO River, which carries the same log but has local advertising for the Hobart market. Theres no announcers AFAIK but correct me if I’m wrong here.


Are there really any rules about what a commercial station can be on DAB? I doubt it’s any different to what they can do on FM.

I would have thought that as long as there is no “offensive” content, anything is okay. Regional is slightly different in respect to local content.


No there’s not really any rules about what a commercial station can put on their DAB allocation, there’s nothing stopping 2SM putting NEW FM on their Sydney DAB allocation in place of say ZOO, they could put NOW FM or any other network station on there that’s different to the 2SM network programming.

As lovemusic said, ARN played the game well early on, by putting essentially The Edge 96.1 on DAB nationally & getting it across Sydney, all outside the FM licence area.

If they weren’t networked so much, there’s nothing stopping SCA putting FOX on DAB in Sydney & 2DAY on DAB in Melbourne or Brisbane.

Although they’re slightly localised, Nova Entertainment have put Smooth on DAB nationally, even where they don’t have an FM station.


Agree with you @RFBurns .

I suppose where I come from is CADA were not meant to be Sydney wide but gets a bonus kick in coverage (different from Smooth in brissy where it is a true dab only station) . In all honesty dab and internet radio has changed the landscape of radio especially in major cities where mobile coverage tends to be adequate. My thinking is outdated.

I guess I miss the days when 2ws and 2ka were true local stations. Although C91.3 is still holding the flag to some extent.


I suppose the problem is that the ACMA, unless they officially embrace an alternate technology path, kinda have to plan for all markets with FM wanting DAB.

Same reason you have the very unachievable remote broadcaster allocations in the plan - but I’m sure if Rebel wrote to the ACMA to seek planning permission for those allocations it’d be slow rolled or require non-economically viable low power SFNs.

Unless there’s a use it or lose it approach taken, with a threat to sell to new entrants, I think DAB’s national rollout is complete.


The likes of Campbelltown market is where DRM (DRM+) would be perfect C91.3 could run a digital simulcast & another 1 or 2 digital channels on DRM+ for very little money using the same transmission facilities & have the same coverage as the FM service.