Dutch stop dithering, set date for DAB+

A follow-up to my recent post hypothesising about how the BBC could use bandwidth assigned temporarily to the 5Live Olympics service to launch a DAB+ service in the UK, here’s another bit of DAB+ news from the Netherlands.

It’s long been their plan to launch DAB+, in contrast to the dithering we’ve had in the UK, which means that many sets you can buy here still don’t even have the necessary codec licences to work with the service. But now things are gathering pace, with an agreement between NPO, the Dutch public broadcaster, and VCR, which is the umbrella group for commercial radio stations, to collaborate on DAB+ rollout.

NPO has recently signed an agreement with telecoms company KPN to upgrade the transmission network for better coverage, and the arrangement with VCR will see both public and commercial broadcasters start to roll out DAB+ services from the 1st of September next year.

Of course, the Netherlands is a lot smaller than the UK, and with much flatter terrain, it’s considerably easier to build out a whole network. And, with the intention to use DAB+ having been announced some time ago, there should be more kit read to receive it.

That, of course, is one of the frustrating aspects of the UK – in continuing to maintain that there’s no need to change to DAB+, for too long a signal’s been sent to buyers that their kit will carry on working, and to vendors that there’s no need to licence the necessary codecs for UK models.

If the BBC were to use the spare space after the Olympics for a successful test, it might finally persuade manufacturers there there is some merit into selling sets that are future-proof for the UK, as they do for other countries in Europe.

In my opinion, buying a DAB-only radio now is as short-sighted a move as buying a digital TV receiver that’s capable only of DVB-T MPEG2 in standard definition; sooner or later, a change will have to come. You might save a few pennies by buying cheap kit, but you’ll have to buy all over again before it’s worn out.

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