Digital Radio


Depends. Here in Winthrop/Murdoch I can only pick up Coast/Wave FM indoors on a good FM radio, not a cheap portable (which is sensitive to the smaller separation between the adjacent Perth stations). And even so it will be in mono, if I am lucky at certain times I can get stereo. For the car radio I can pick up The Wave all the way to Perth city but is subject to drop outs / fading and I am sure is not in stereo (not that I can easily tell in a car).Driving north of Perth to Lancelin last year the DAB reach seemed to extend as far as the FM reach for the Perth stations, so if the Perth DAB tx power and Perth wide coverage FM tx powers are the same, then indeed a doubling of the Mandurah DAB power will extend its coverage beyond that of the Mandurah FM stations, I suspect though DAB requires more power for the same reach, certainly it will be a different reception pattern and on the fringes things could well flip between FM and DAB.


Perth DAB+ is on 9B and 9C. So the ABC/SBS will have to be the same in both Perth and Mandurah, leaving 9A feee for future commercial use in Perth.


Not 9A, only 9B for commercial/community as less than eight commercial licences to warrant a second multiplex. There is no possible third multiplex for Perth as they have less than 8 commercials

Both 9B and 9C are off the NEW guyed mast (penny pinchers didn’t build a tower in the 80’s) in Carmel.

Two commercials in Mandurah, 6MM (The Wave) and 6CST (Coast). No community, the licence has never been applied for.

So they will end up with 4/9ths of the multiplex in use. Perhaps they can lease some of their 4/9 to RWWA for the TAB station which misses out on a Perth spot due to being narrowcast and a very congested 9B.

Mandurah licence area would surely prefer Perth ABC over something regional? 9C will be used as an SFN.

As the ABC and SBS plan an SFN, there was no need for a Cat 2 that would’ve combined commercial and national on the one multiplex and allowed for different programming than Perth.

I would prefer an SFN for the Gold Coast for 4QR/ABC Brisbane to be heard from Mt Tamborine but with the struggle street funded 91.7 local ABC, that’s unlikely as they seek to protect it from its larger metro counterpart.

9C is in use, it is not free, the Mandurah allocation is on a regional block, not in the metros’ 9A - C.


Unfortunately it’s not that straightforward robtog. They operate on very different frequencies and DAB+ receivers are not as sensitive as FM receivers due to the bandwidth they require.

And the transmit patterns, heights and configurations will be different.

ACMA would be taking that into account. (Maybe!)


I’d like to be wrong on this, but I certainly get the impression that the ACMA are going to allocate Category 1 everywhere, with DAB+ Local Windowing being used to try and insert a replacement local ABC station in each retransmission of the SFN.

My main reason for thinking this is the current planning for the Gold Coast, which should have a Category 2 license for their commercial block - as they are using up the alternate national multiplex frequency.

The only other answer is if everywhere that has to share the SFN of the Gold Coast ABC/SBS block will get ABC Gold Coast in addition to their local ABC on the commercial multiplex, which would be a really strange choice.

With luck, part of the delay on the Gold Coast planning is them revisiting this and correctly allocating a Cat 2 license for their commercial multiplex.


Agree, however the commercial broadcasters won’t agree to it for the following:

3 licensees and if they bid for the excess spectrum they’re entitled to, they’ll end up with 6/9 of a multiplex utilised.

Cat 2 DRMT allows for 2/9 community and ABC/SBS occupying 2/9 also. 5/9 remaining for commercials. Either SCA or HT miss out on some of their excess capacity and you could imagine both the Camerons and SCA would vigorously bid knowing that they can monetise the digital spectrum.

At a loss as to why the ACMA refers to multiplex capacity in kbps rather than capacity units. kbps assumes error correction is consistent across all allocations within the multiplex. I guess this is CRA leading the policy development rather than ACMA leading as a regulator should.

That’s if anywhere else takes up digital radio.

It would be a more frugal use of spectrum which would make some sense. Most of the delay is the impasse between licensees and ACMA’s unwillingness to take the lead and make a decision.


I wonder if that’s part of the hesitancy of commercial broadcasters to experiment? As far as I’m aware 2SM are the only commercial broadcaster doing anything other than the standard error correction.

You could probably also experiment with the opposite, running your stations with higher error correction levels to boost the coverage range from the same transmitter power. The ACMA report for regional planning mentions that the Darwin trial is or was EEP-1A because it improved coverage, though I think for the full multiplex the plan is to just increase the power.

If I had a DAB+ multiplex in a town that bordered a capital city, I’d certainly run at EEP-1A to try and maximise coverage.

I’d expect Toowoomba to be one market that does, mostly because I’m sure that Bill will want 4AK/4WK on DAB, and that’s a market that would need to share the same ABC/SBS multiplex as the Gold Coast.

I agree on the premise though - I expect many markets in regional areas to just not bother - with the ones that do centred on the towns adjacent to the capitals. FM conversions of AM services are going to be good enough for the majority of two station regional markets, and in many it’s all their revenues could sustain anyway.


I agree, most solus operators won’t bother with DAB, since they probably won’t make much $$$ out of it.


Realistically, I’d probably expect the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Newcastle, the NSW Central Coast, Wollongong and Geelong to be just about the extent of any regional DAB+ rollout.

Maybe also Toowoomba, Cairns and/or Townsville at a stretch but I think most other regional markets (especially those with only two commercial stations) will simply make do with FM conversions of AM services.


Central Coast, Newcastle and Wollongong is going to be a very tight fit spectrum wise if they all get onboard with digital radio.


If that is the case, then should we be asking what is the future of digital radio in this country? Or at least what is its intended purpose going forward? Is it ever going to be a permanent replacement for existing analogue radio, or does it merely exist to be a relay of existing services with some supplementary listening choices?

I know I sound like a negative nancy about it, but with the pace of growth of other wireless technology and the way in which it’s encoraching on the turf of traditional terrestrial broadcasts, I think it’s legitimate to ask ‘what’s the point’ about rolling out a replacement to these broadcasts. It might have made sense 10-15 years ago before everyone had the internet in their pockets, but does it today, and will it in the future?


I agree, but of the regional markets in NSW I think those three would be the most likely to have DAB+ transmissions due to their population size. I also figured that if Newcastle ever gets DAB+, the Central Coast will probably also have to have it.

The Newcastle & Wollongong ABC/SBS multiplex might have to share a frequency which wouldn’t be ideal, although I could still imagine ACMA doing that knowing the Digital TV situation in both markets. Alternatively, the Sydney ABC/SBS services could be relayed to the Central Coast with maybe the local ABC Radio Central Coast station given 64kbps on the commercial/community multiplex.


I hope there are a few more than that. I think the competitive markets in Qld will get DAB. Places like Mackay, Bundaberg and Rockhampton where you’ve got SCA and Grant, in addition to Cairns and Townsville.


My bad. I didn’t research this. Yes that is correct. But how does DAB overlap since 9C is being transmitted on the same frequency from Pinjarra for Mandurah (10 kW) and Bickley for Perth (12.5 kW)?


I think broadly, roll out DAB everywhere you can’t put all commercial/national stations on a high power FM frequency.

While I think AM broadcasting has a role, it is inadequate for metro areas where the amount of interference is too high for it to be listenable, so DAB can be a replacement technology for AM.

I’d make the caveat that while FM/AM licenses should come with DAB access, if an operator opts not to deploy, the DAB license should be openly auctioned to any purchaser, so that if someone else thinks they can profit from a multiplex in a regional area they should be able to launch it.


Has anyone successfully gotten DAB+ Player to work with an RTL2838U SDR instead of the RTL2832 chip it’s designed for? I have tons of RTL2838U’s, but not a single RTL2832.


I don’t know about “DAB+ Player” but have you tried “”? It’s supposed to work with those RTL dongles.


Yes, it works, but gives very little information in comparison to DAB Player.


Have you tried installing the driver from the archive on this page?

You’ll need to manually switch the drivers in device manager after running the driver install executable. DAB+ Player works with my RTL2838U after doing the above.


Good points, I broadly agree with the sentiment Moe, and I think it makes sense for AM licences in metro areas to have a listenable alternative. I guess I just wonder whether that alone will be enough to make DAB thrive long-term?

Your other idea re open auctions has real merit, and probably gives the medium the best chance of survival in the longer term. If only this were an option in the competitive markets too, give new players an incentive to make the medium succeed