In December 2005, the Swedish government had announced that it would not expand the existing DAB radio transmission system that already covered 85% of the country and would not propose a consumer migration from FM to DAB radio. Instead, it suggested that the radio industry should focus on a mix of digital platforms including podcasts, mobile phones and distribution via TV.
In June 2008, Sweden’s broadcasting authority suggested to the government that the DAB+ codec should replace the country’s existing DAB system. However, the government’s IT consultant Patrick Fallstrom said that both DAB and DAB+ were an old-fashioned solution and that today’s consumers were more likely to listen to audio via the internet, mp3’s or their mobile phone.
Now, speaking at the recent ‘Radio Day of European Cultures’ event, Swedish culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth stated that there is no need for a DAB+ radio network in Sweden. Instead, she proposed that digital radio be carried on the existing DVB-T digital television network which is about to be upgraded to DVB-T2, creating 80% more space for high definition TV and radio channels. Test transmissions of DVB-T2 are scheduled to start in Stockholm and Uppsala before Christmas.
The perceived advantages are: no dual TV/radio transmission system, reduced transmission costs, the digital TV transmission network is already built, DVB-T already provides better coverage (99.8% of the population) and sound quality than the DAB network, increased energy efficiency, plenty of available spectrum, and mobile reception is supported (cars and phones). The perceived disadvantages are: the DVB-T2 system is not yet established, no radio receivers have yet been developed, and there is no lobby group for the system (as there is for DAB+).
One Swedish media commentator noted: “We do not need more transmission networks in Sweden. We must share the resources that we have. This is what I hope the government has understood. It seems as if it has. … It is clear to me that Swedish state radio should not be trying to build its own distribution mechanisms, and especially not its own transmission networks. Its money should be used as efficiently as possible to ensure that Swedish state radio programmes can be heard in as many places as possible. This would include DVB-T2, mobile phone networks, the internet, and FM for the foreseeable future.”
Per Gulbrandsen of Swedish state radio commented: “The government is providing no more money for digital broadcasting and wants the market to decide upon the digital migration of radio. But it is no secret in the industry that the Ministry of Culture dislikes the ageing DAB digital radio system, even in its newer DAB+ form.”