WorldDAB member focus: Sumatronic AG

01.02.2023 - WorldDAB News - Sumatronic AG WorldDAB Member - Switzerland Switzerland - Martinique Martinique

by Rebecca Keene, Stakeholder Relations Manager, WorldDAB

Q&A with Peter H. Matter, CEO, Sumatronic AG

Sumatronic has recently joined WorldDAB as a member, please could you explain a bit about your main reasons for joining and what you hope to get out of your membership?

Sumatronic AG has been involved in studio, transmission and broadcasting technology for many radio stations in Switzerland and neighbouring regions for over 30 years.

For more than 15 years we have also been intensively involved in DAB+ technology. By taking over the product lines of the manufacturers VDL and VAD, we went from being a user to a manufacturer of professional DAB+ products and received many enquiries from all over the world. For more than 10 years, we have also been intensively involved in indoor DAB+ coverage. Sumatronic also offers various technical services and unique solutions for radio and specifically for DAB+. We are convinced that these specialised offerings will also attract international interest.

What markets does your company support and what solutions do you provide?

We see one of the main markets for our indoor DAB+ repeater systems. Reception in buildings is often poor. With our repeaters, we provide coverage in any desired area, from workplaces, consumer electronics shops, and car parks to places where DAB is needed for security reasons (e.g. government offices). This is because the internet is too vulnerable as a replacement and therefore not suitable. FM is planned to be switched off in Switzerland soon.

Can you tell us about your most recent projects?

There are several: A special one is our "DAB4all" campaign. With this, we want to make the introduction of DAB+ possible in regions of the world where commercial network operation is not yet possible because the population is only slowly owning individual DAB+ radios. 

For the first time, a DAB+ network has launched on the Caribbean island of Martinique. This is the most westerly territory on earth to have DAB+.

Sumatronic initiated the DAB4all campaign to bring DAB+ to Martinique and other regions of the world where the population has few or no DAB+ receivers. In such regions, a purely commercial operation is therefore practically impossible. Nevertheless, it is good if DAB+ is also launched in such regions. Sumatronic has a selection of used DAB+ equipment and has the know-how to support the professionals in these countries. Most of them have not yet had the opportunity to deal with DAB+. Therefore, the equipment alone is not enough; support and know-how are also needed.

We are interested in receiving used but functional DAB equipment and thus making DAB+ possible in other regions of the world.

Other recent projects include our DAB-playout project, consulting and measuring/analysing work and various DAB+ repeater activities in which we equip workplaces, shops and other indoor spaces. Especially workers with monotonous jobs, notably if they are without daylight or even work in noisy, cold or otherwise unpleasant surroundings, appreciate the live radio reception very much. The wide selection of well-made, live radio broadcasts via DAB+ offers real added value, reflected in better employee satisfaction and - according to various managers - even in fewer absences due to illness.

In Switzerland and Liechtenstein, we have a general licence for DAB+ repeater operation fulfilling a strict and safe national standard. In other countries, licensing is generally still required.

What do your customers value most from your solutions?

With the repeaters, we bring DAB+ coverage to where people expect reception. This enhances DAB+ as a system in our societies. Web radio is often unreliable, especially in emergency situations, while DAB+ is stable and easy to use for the general public.

In addition, the radio stations' programmes are thus more widely available, which increases their reach. So DAB+ repeaters are a win-win for everyone.

What advice would you give someone considering deploying DAB?

Basically, the audience expects DAB+ reception wherever they are, including at home. However, achieving indoor coverage by regular transmitters can be expensive, especially at the beginning of the roll-out, when the ensembles might still be partly empty and revenues are low. Therefore, the following recommendation: Network planning must take indoor coverage into account, even if it comes later. In the beginning, using higher FEC helps to improve the indoor DAB+ coverage range without needing more transmitters.

Moreover, there are situations where DAB+ indoor repeaters can be more efficient and cheaper versus expensive indoor coverage from outside.

We are happy to consult network operators and share our years of experience.

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