Radio as we know it is pretty much changing completely.
-David Lee Roth
In a move that might pique the interest of many, Norway’s Ministry of Culture just announced plans to transition completely towards digital radio and turn off FM radio nationwide. This transition is planned for 2017. With this move Norway will become the first country to do away with FM radio entirely. The country plans to transition to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) (available since 1995) as a national standard.
Why the move?
DAB currently offers 22 national channels as opposed to FM’s five (5) and it also has the capacity to host almost 20 more. Additionally, the cost of transmitting radio channels through FM is eight (8) times higher than the cost of DAB transmission.
Editor’s Note: “FM” actually stands for frequency modulation. FM has been considered by many to the better half of the AM/FM pairing for nearly a century. Studies show that over 90% of Americans still listen to AM/FM radio at least weekly although each year more and more people are choosing to forgo analog radio for Internet-only services.
In Norway at least, this is nothing new. This movement was originally proposed in 2011 and it’s not only going to allegedly improve service but also will facilitate better emergency preparedness and spur increased competition and innovation. Several other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia are also considering a national move to DAB, but no other country has yet to confirm a timeline.
With the transition over to digital radio it clearly is the end of an era at least in Norway. Is the United States ready for such a bold move? Probably not any time soon but eventually, yes. Norway is not the United States and vice versa. However, the idea is a simple, and arguably, a good one. Cut cost and as with everything else, give the consumer a “cable” like choice for services. It is certainly food for thought and it could indeed be the wave of the future however, for now, I guess we sit back and simply listen to what happens next.