Update from EBU 2014 Digital Radio Summit

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Geneva - Feb 13, 2014 - At the 2014 Digital Radio Summit, one of the key takeaways was the agreement on 50 percent as a critical threshold for countries developing plans for the sun-setting of FM service. In Norway, Denmark and the UK switch-off will be given the go-ahead when at least 50 percent of listening is digital (with variants on how that is defined). Both Norway (2017) and Denmark (2019) have announced target dates already, while the UK and Switzerland are working to put the pre-conditions in place, while not yet naming an actual date, according to EBU News.

Phil Stuchfield (representing Jaguar and Land Rover) was present at the conference, and he stressed the continued importance of in-car radio listening, reminding attendees that time spent listening to broadcast radio is double that of other sources (media players, CDs, etc). He said that that the automotive industry needs solutions that will offer a wide choice of services and that can be developed on a worldwide basis. He identified software-defined radio as having the potential to solve many problems, but said there is still much work to be done.

Per Borgå of Teracom presented the results of a study they conducted in Sweden drawing the firm conclusion that cellular networks are not the solution for the future of radio delivery. The huge amount of data and the difficulty with providing universal coverage mean that eMBMS does not offer a realistic alternative to terrestrial broadcasting; and, he said, new technology is unlikely to change this conclusion.

RadioDNS Chair Nick Piggott announced that Samsung has released a number of smartphone models that integrate RadioDNS hybrid radio as standard. In this case the broadcast element is FM, but it shows a clear willingness on the part of the handset manufacturers to embrace a new approach to radio for the future. The Universal Smartphone Radio Project and the Euro-Chip campaign, both supported by the EBU, will build on this momentum.

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