Economics, Environment, Emergency – driving the case for DAB+ at ABU DBS

06.03.2023 by Will Jackson

After two years of virtual events, the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union’s Digital Broadcasting Symposium is back in person from today, at The Royale Chulan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

On the first day of the four-day event, over 150 delegates from the Asia Pacific region and beyond packed the room for the WorldDAB workshop: “Economics, Environment, Emergency – driving the case for DAB+.”

A panel of six people sat in chairs on stage at ABU DBS

WorldDAB workshop speakers (Photo credit: ABU DBS 2023)

WorldDAB Project Director Bernie O’Neill updated the audience on the platform’s global growth, noting that DAB+ was now well established and growing in Australia, with Asia Pacific markets continuing to run trials, and a step change in interest from Africa and the Middle East. Along with continued development and innovation in more established DAB+ markets, “deployment of DAB+ in Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East is a priority,” O’Neill told delegates.

DAB’s Service Programme Information feature was growing in importance, said Lindsay Cornell, Chair of WorldDAB’s Technical Committee, who announced the creation of a Task Force to update the specification to make aspects easier to interpret, and to include new XML features relevant to broadcast.

Cornell also noted that the receiver testing ETSI standard had been updated with extra requirements to make it suited to a much wider geographical area. It will now incorporate tests that ensure delivery of non-Latin text to suitable displays, including EBU Latin, All Europe, ASBU, Thai, and Greek and Cyrillic characters.

Chair of WorldDAB’s APAC Technical Group, Les Sabel, updated the audience on DAB+ developments in the region. He noted trials in Thailand, including functional testing, outdoor and indoor field testing, supported by education and training. In Bangkok, the trial broadcast 18 audio and one data service, with a 10 kW ERP central Bangkok transmission site. Other trials were focussed on four regional areas and centres: Chon Buri, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Song Khla.

Sabel also spoke about the development of small-scale DAB, which he described as “essential” in helping community radio stations to participate in digital radio’s future. This often uses open-source software and SDR solutions for support systems, and it was “being increasingly valued and added to countries’ regulation frameworks,” Sabel said.

Continuing the small-scale DAB theme, “think differently, work locally,” was the advice from Nick Piggott of Bristol Digital Radio, a multiplex operator in the west of England. “We’ve built a minimum viable product – a saloon car, not a luxury vehicle,” he said. “DAB can be done very cost-effectively without disrupting the existing ecosystem to make the most of the opportunity,”

 Lars-Peder Lundgren of Paneda on stage in front of a screen at ABU DBS with members of the audience watching him

Lars-Peder Lundgren, CEO of Paneda Sweden (Photo credit: ABU DBS 2023)

Lars-Peder Lundgren, CEO of Paneda Sweden, spoke about emergency warnings on DAB, noting the robustness of broadcast networks. “There have been many cases where mobile networks and internet were down, but never DAB,” he said. “In some situations, mobile networks are shut down on purpose. Broadcast networks are most reliable, with 99.9% uptime as a minimum.”

Innovations in transmitters were the focus of a session from Oscar Hu, Regional Sales Manager, Southeast Asia, GatesAir. Last year, the company launched the first self-contained, fully weatherproof transmitter series, built for challenging coverage areas and unusual install points.

Finally, the ease of a modern DAB roll-out was highlighted by Hermann Zensen, Head of Sales and Marketing, Digidia. Modern DAB head ends are completely software and IP based and therefore compact, easy to install and maintain, even remotely. This means it is possible to start cost-efficient trial systems very quickly, Zensen said.

 The audience of around 150 people sat at rows of desks in a conference room watching the ABU DBS WorldDAB workshop

The audience at the ABU DBS WorldDAB workshop (Photo credit: ABU DBS 2023)

On Tuesday, the WorldDAB pavilion was visited by the Malaysian Minister of Communications and Digital, Fahmi Fadzil. He heard about the global growth of DAB+ from Project Director Bernie O’Neill and other WorldDAB members. 

 WorldDAB Project Director Bernie O'Neill stands on the left talking to Malaysian Minister of Communications and Digital, Fahmi Fadzil in front of the WorldDAB pavilion stand. Other delegates and photographers stand around them in a large hotel conference hall.

Left to right: Bernie O’Neill, Project Director, WorldDAB; Dr Javad Mottaghi, ABU Secretary-General; Ahmed Nadeem, ABU Secretary-General Designate, and Director, Technology & Innovation; Fahmi Fadzil, Minister of Communications and Digital Malaysia; Dr Les Sabel, Chair, WorldDAB APAC Technical Group. (Photo: WorldDAB)


The ABU Digital Broadcasting Symposium continues until Thursday. Further sessions include a digital radio technical update on Tuesday from Lindsay Cornell, Chair, WorldDAB Technical Committee; and on Wednesday, Les Sabel, Chair, WorldDAB APAC Technical Group, will speak on new opportunities for broadcasters from DAB+ announcements for domestic receivers.

Dr Les Sabel is on a stage speaking at a lectern, in front of a screen showing a photo of a blue DAB digital radio. The four other panellists in the conference sit on the stage below the screen.

Dr Les Sabel on stage for a session on media solutions, presenting a use case on DAB+ for domestic receivers. (Photo: WorldDAB)


ABU DBS also sees WorldDAB highlighting its new book: "Establishing DAB+ Digital Broadcast Radio". The free ebook, available from the WorldDAB website, offers a unique, in-depth guide to the regulatory, technical, and commercial aspects of establishing a successful DAB digital radio service. The book provides guidance to new countries seeking to launch DAB services, as well as offering advice for markets which have already started the process, and those who are nearing permanent service status.

Visit the WorldDAB pavilion at stands 17 and 18 to meet with digital radio experts who are available throughout the Symposium to offer guidance and support on rolling out DAB+. There’s also the opportunity to enter a draw to win a DAB digital radio.

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