6 June 2007
Digital radio trials extended in Sydney and Melbourne
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has decided to extend the current Eureka 147 digital radio trials in Melbourne and Sydney.
The Melbourne trial, which is being conducted by Broadcast Australia, has been extended until 30 June 2008 and the Sydney trial being conducted by Commercial Radio Australia until 31 December 2008.
‘Information gathered in relation to the digital radio trials has been important in informing the development of the Australian Government’s digital radio policy,’ said Giles Tanner, General Manager of ACMA’s Inputs to Industry Division. ‘The extension of the trials will enable the testing of recent technological advancements which, if successful, will allow for significantly improved spectrum efficiency and quality of sound. These trials will provide further valuable information for both government and industry.’
The trials, which are using VHF Band III spectrum, have been conducted on an ongoing basis since November 2003 in the case of the Melbourne trial and November 2004 in the case of the Sydney trial. While ACMA’s trial policy indicates ACMA will generally facilitate trials of a short-term nature only, in this instance, ACMA believes that the trials should continue because the spectrum has been identified by the Government for digital radio with permanent digital radio services expected to commence from 1 January 2009.
ACMA is currently working on a new trials policy for broadcasting services bands and non-broadcasting services bands spectrum. This new policy will ensure flexibility in situations such as this one where spectrum is already identified for long term use by the type of service proposed for trial.
The objectives of the trial were to:
- Field-test the proposed new DAB audio encoding system LFA960;
- Establish relative dropout rates as function of signal strength;
- Test CRC predictions of threshold-of-audibility and point-of-failure
- Subjectively assess relative performance of current and proposed new encoding systems.
The reports of the trials are available on ACMA’s website.
There remains capacity for other Eureka 147 triallists in Melbourne and in other areas of Australia (MF and VHF bands). Anyone who has an interest in trialling digital radio can apply to the Executive Manager, National Licensing and Allocations Branch, PO Box 78, Belconnen ACT 2617.
Media contact Anne Parbury, ACMA Media on (02) 9334 7873.
In October 2005, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts announced the policy framework for the introduction of digital radio. The announcement made it clear that, in the government’s view, technical trials of digital radio technologies need to be undertaken to determine the most appropriate technologies or combination of technologies to be used in Australia.
The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Radio) Bill 2007 was passed by Parliament on 10 May 2007 and commenced on Tuesday 29 May 2007. The legislation specifies those broadcasters that will get access to spectrum for digital radio. This is to be allocated directly to them, with no auction required.
In assessing competing applications for digital radio trials, ACMA takes the following into consideration:
- the purpose of the trial
- the date and order in which an applicant expressed interest in conducting a trial;
- the preparedness, and supporting evidence, of an applicant to commence a service on the nominated date;
- the nominated date and duration of the trial;
- whether the trial could practicably proceed using a different location or channel;
- the willingness of an applicant to sign an undertaking in relation to the short term nature of trials;
- in light of government policy for the introduction of digital radio, the utility of the trial proposal;
- willingness to work with ACMA where information gathered from the trial could be of interest to ACMA or the government as well as the triallist;
- such other matters as ACMA considers relevant including information that will enable ACMA to have regard to the objects of the legislation and the regulatory policy.