We spoke to Ashok Chandak Sr Director-NXP Global Sales & Marketing to understand how digital radio could provide a disruptive transformation to the mobile radio market in India
With the government focusing on Digital India where do you think Digital Radio fits into the picture and how is it going to prove beneficial to the masses?
DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale) technology promises to provide quality radio signals over longer distances, unlike FM technology whose coverage is restricted to city limits. You could think of it as a digital version of the good old analog AM transmission – longer reach and uninterrupted coverage but with FM quality audio. The biggest beneficiaries shall be the rural market, especially with the wide spectrum and energy efficiency in transmission of the technology. DRM will provide FM quality audio to the whole of India in an economic way. The new broadcasting services such as traffic updates, weather, pictures, local language content, disaster warnings, etc shall add more value to radio transmission.
Why is there a need to go digital in radio transmission?
DRM saves energy consumption and increases efficient usage of spectrum and for the same coverage needs lesser transmission power than AM. DRM also enables many more channels (up to 4x for AM , up to 6x for FM) per transmitter. India already has had a great start with DRM already covering around 400 million listeners currently.
The industry expects clear communication on the roll out plans from the government and more freedom on the quality of content and extra services on offer for the listeners. Also, DRM can create jobs for Indians at all levels during both transmission and reception of services, across the length and breadth of the country. It offers many new business opportunities for digital radio receiver development and production has already started in high technology development for radios and semiconductor industry.
Going digital for radio is a worldwide trend and most countries have chosen a digital radio standard which satisfies their specific needs for national broadcasts. The Sam Pitroda report of 2014 highlights DRM for India as the right choice for digital radio transmission. In fact, most countries already use DRM for their international broadcasts on top of standards chosen for national broadcasting as this is the only standard that offers both international coverage and national coverage for large countries.
Which type of listeners do you think stand to benefit the most from digital radio?
Listening to radio in India is very popular in cars and automotive industry is a key driver for the adoption of digital radio. This is similar to what’s happening abroad. Most of the key players in the automotive industry have responded well to DRM in cars for Indian market and they have started development projects and executing field tests that are near to completion.