The Costly Business of DRM
Digital radio is conquering new countries every year. Most of them (over 40) use digital radio’s de facto standard Eureka 147 (which includes DMB and DAB+). Some of them use DRM (Digital Radio Mondiale), which is like the AM of digital radio. It covers vast areas with few transmitters (i.e. India). The United States has, as usual, gone their own way and uses HD Radio, a proprietary solution.
Germany has used DAB+ since 2011 and is now covering over 80% of the country. Deutschlandradio in Germany did however also use DRM. Until September 2012 when it was switched off. Why? It cost the broadcaster 12 million Euro per year to run the system, the same as DAB+. The difference? Their DRM capacity was limited to 40kbps, just about enough for one radio station. DAB+ gives them 400kbps, 10 times as much for the same price. And while there are hundreds of receiver models capable of receiving DAB+, there are only a handful capable of receiving DRM.
DRM is a good option when you want to cover big areas with few radio stations. DAB+ is great when you want to provide many stations via broadcast radio. So, DAB+ for choice, DRM for reach to remote away places. Then again, in Norway DAB+ will provide both as 99.5 of the population will be covered by the end of 2014. And there aren’t many countries that are more challenging when it comes to building a distribution infrastructure. 765 transmitters are needed to ensure better DAB+ coverage than what is currently the case for P1, the widest reaching radio station on FM.
Then again, India and Russia are somewhat bigger than Norway, and DRM may very well be a good solution in such huge countries.