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Digital Radio Mondiale has announced that a full-featured DRM digital radio transmission with three audio services and Journaline advanced text information is running in New Delhi in the FM band, alongside the existing analog FM transmissions.
The organization explains that the transmission is part of an extensive trial and demonstration of DRM conducted by Prasar Bharati and its radio arm, All India Radio, with the help of the DRM Consortium and its local and international members. The test was officially launched on Feb. 24 and 25 at AIR’s headquarters in New Delhi.
The test was requested by the regulator TRAI and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as part of their deliberations that will lead to the recommendation of the most suitable radio standard to digitize the FM band in India.
DRM for FM is part of the ITU recommended all-band DRM standard. It was introduced in 2011 after successful trials (like the one in Edinburgh, U.K.) all over the world. The consortium notes that DRM for FM is now part of official policies in Russia, Pakistan and South Africa, and is recommended by the Southern African Development Community for its sixteen Southern African countries.
The current Indian trial will be carried out in two locations. The first phase, in Delhi, will demonstrate and test the key features of DRM, its efficient coverage potential and flexible on-air signal configurations. The second phase will take place in Jaipur. It is designed to prove the compatibility with the FM band “channelization” in India, where DRM fills the gaps between existing analog FM services that are not otherwise usable, as well as the existing CTI (shared FM transmitter infrastructure).
A whole set of receiver brands made their DRM receiver solutions available for this trial, supporting coverage in all broadcast bands – from the regular DRM services on-air throughout India, in the former AM bands by All India Radio, to now including DRM services in the FM band. Receiver models include desktop and portable radio sets, automotive line-fit head-units with software upgrades to extend DRM support to the FM band, automotive after-market models and upgrade kits to enable DRM reception on Android-based mobile phones.
All India Radio and Prasar Bharati specialists and other Indian industry experts will evaluate and record the DRM coverage potential.
The DRM consortium notes that some key features of DRM include:
- High-quality stereo and 5.1 surround sound, with up to three audio services plus multimedia per DRM transmission
- Multilingual Journaline text services such as Mann Ki Baat (the regular Premier Modi broadcasts), travel information and news
- Journaline-based applications such as Distance-Learning/Radio Schooling and Public Signage
- EWF Emergency Warning Functionality with full CAP compliance
- Flexible multi-DRM transmission of up to 6 DRM signals — providing up to 24 DRM services (18 audio programs plus six standalone Journaline services) from a single FM-band transmitter
- Simulcast of an analog FM and a digital DRM signal side-by-side from a single transmitter.
- Interference-free insertion of digital DRM signals in the otherwise unavailable gaps between the existing analog FM services, which remain undisturbed.
“This demonstration of DRM services in the FM band will be a feast of ‘firsts’ for digital radio services and features in India, including the multi-DRM transmissions on a single transmitter or the distance learning enabled by the non-proprietary, open-to-all DRM radio standard,” explained Yogendra Pal, Hon. Chairman of the DRM India Chapter.
“We hope that the expected good results will convince the Indian authorities that DRM is the right standard to upgrade All India Radio’s already established country-wide DRM services in the AM bands to the FM band,” commented DRM Chariman Ruxandra Obreja. “This will allow private broadcasters to finally benefit from the innovative services and revenue potential of DRM digital radio, while establishing a simple upgrade path for the automotive industry, with technology designed and made in India.”