What is your favorite radio station? How often do you listen to it? What device do you use to listen to the radio?
These and other related questions will soon be answered as the British government reviews the state of the radio industry.
The review was recently announced by the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) through its head, Margot James MP. The review wishes to know the relevance of analogue radios as compared to digital radios.
What are analogue radios?
The earliest radio signal was heard in the airwaves in the 1900s courtesy of its inventor, Guglielmo Marconi. In 1943, Nikola Tesla invented the very first modern terrestrial or analogue radio which is the basis of the radios being used at present.
Come to think of it, nothing much has really changed with its design, except for the aesthetics. The initial design is still in use. In fact, working old radios are still able to pick up analogue radio signals.
The principle of receiving radio signal hasn’t changed – it requires a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter is located in a steel tower and sends radio waves. It is then received by an analogue radio, and goes through two modulations: Amplitude Modulation (AM) and Frequency Modulation (FM). The received AM signal has a frequency range of 49MHz, while FM is at 800MHz.
What are digital radios?
A study conducted by the authorized body that measures radio listening in the UK, the Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR), indicates that 35 million radio listeners tune in to radio through digital platforms.
The study also reported that 52.6 percent of British listeners tune in to radios using digital platforms. And that this number sees an annual increase of two percent.
It also specified that of the 52.6 percent digital listeners, 38.3 percent listen to DAB (digital audio broadcasting) radios, 9.4 percent through online/mobile apps, and the 5 percent through digital TVs.
The switch to digital platforms has been credited to the clearer and better signals they offer.
Signal reception is also more consistent through digital channels.
So, what’s the difference between these three types of digital platforms?
DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) Radio: DAB was an experiment began in 1981, until its full development and first world launching on June, 1995. It initially used MP2 technology, but has since made huge improvements.
It offers better use of the radio airwaves spectrum, and is able to offer other radio services at the same bandwidth as its analogue counterparts.
It initially used MP2 technology, but has since made huge improvements. It offers better use of the radio airwaves spectrum, and is able to offer other radio services at the same bandwidth as its analogue counterparts.
Online Radio Apps or Internet Radio: As the name implies, these are radio apps that can be downloaded from the internet into a mobile device. It is available for Android, Apple, Blackberry, and Windows devices. There are a lot of apps offered for free, while some require subscription or download fees.
Internet radios, on the other hand, can be accessed through live streaming.
Digital TV: With the launch of smart television, it added a feature for radio listening. Signals can be received via the internet if the TV is connected to your internet via cable or Wi-Fi. Special cables can also be used to receive radio signals on TVs.
At present, Norway is the first country to have completed its transition to digital radio, and has totally shut down the broadcast of FM stations through analogue channels.
The UK may soon follow suit depending on the result of the review it is conducting. With the huge number of listeners currently using digital radio, it is highly likely it would also fully transition to digital formats in the near future.