DAB+ radio technology is an alternative or a supplementary technology to relieve congestion in the current FM band. The current trial started on 15 March 2019. The license was obtained on behalf of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the radio industry by the SABC. Enjoy super sound and quality while the trial is running.
Two transmitters are operating, one in Johannesburg on the Brixton Tower and the another one in Pretoria operating in Band III on channel 13f at 239,2 MHz. The two stations operate in a single frequency network (SFN). The Pretoria transmitter runs at 10 kW while the power of the Johannesburg transmitter was reduced to 5 kW as at the 10kW level it was interfering with one of the analogue TV stations. Unlike FM, DAB+ uses reflections to its advantage while on the current FM service signal reflection from buildings and surrounding terrain causes signal distortion.
Two phases of the trial have been completed. Phase 3 of South African DAB+ Trial went on the air on 15 March this year and will run for 8 months with an extension of 6 months which means that the current two transmitters and stations will go off the air in May 2020.
The current MUX can accommodate 24 radio stations of which a third of the capacity has been allocated to community-based radios stations. There is no cost involved in being part of the trial other than that the stations are responsible to deliver their signal to the Brixton tower.
When South Africa will introduce DAB+ in parallel to FM is an open question as currently the country is still struggling to sort out its digital migration of the terrestrial TV services, now many years behind the agreed ITU switch off date.
Watch out for the full DAB+ story in the March edition