Australian DAB+ Set for First Regional Rollout

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As Australia approaches the first anniversary of its launch of DAB+ in five major urban markets, Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) says that nation's first regional multiplex is on track to turn up in early July.

Joan Warner, CEO of the trade group, says the trial run in Canberra is designed to provide firsthand experience with DAB+ in more challenging environments, and also to evaluate more advanced functionality, such as enhanced graphic and rewind/replay features on compatible receivers.

Warner also noted that the location for the first regional trial should allow microcell retransmission of the Canberra multiplex into the nation's House of Parliament. That would give the nation's legislators the opportunity to personally experience the new technology even as CRA requests government reallocation of VHF band III spectrum freed up in the DTV transition. As in other developed nations, vacated analog TV spectrum in Australia is drawing intense interest from wireless service providers who are prepared to bid handsomely for access rights.

Supporters of the 10-channel regional trial include Broadcast Australia, providing the transmission facility on Canberra's Black Mountain, along with UK-based RadioScape, in tandem with its Australian partner, UGL Infrastructure, which have been tapped to provision all audio encoding, multiplexing and monitoring equipment.

Additional trials are reportedly being planned for the northern coastal area of Darwin, with consideration also being given to Townsville and Hobart.

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