Norway drops FM for digital
ATDI is used to creating new eras through its innovative range of software products, but the company is now partly responsible for the closing of one.
FM broadcasting will come to an end in Norway in 2017, making the country the first developed nation to turn off the signal. The frequencies currently used by FM will be given over to digital services in a switch that has been facilitated by ATDI’s planning and modelling software and expertise.
Norwegian spectrum regulator NKOM – formerly NPT – is one of a broad swathe of regulators worldwide using ATDI software, notably planning and modelling tool ICS telecom, backed by consultancy and support services. To enable the switch to digital-only broadcasting, ATDI provided NKOM with recommendations about the propagation model settings for the T-DAB network and for the potential 3D reflection effects, a particularly significant issue in Norway given the mountainous nature of the country. In addition, the company delivered interference calculations and analysis along with guidance on how to calibrate the propagation model – including field measurements – to improve the coverage accuracy.
Guided by ATDI data and advice, NKOM stipulated that before the FM-to-digital switch could take place, state broadcaster NRK had to be able to reach the same percentage of the population with its digital services as with its FM broadcasts. Further, the multiplexes carrying commercial radio services had to cover at least 90 per cent of the population. Coverage plots generated by ICS telecom were central in establishing that the criteria had been met.
“Given that the other switch-off conditions are fulfilled, it seems to me that Norway is ready to switch off the FM band,” says NKOM director general Torstein Olsen. “The vast majority of the population now has access to digital radio, and it is time to introduce modern technology for this medium, too, as we did for terrestrial television in 2009. With this I presume that the operators find good solutions for the vast majority of households.”
NKOM says it prides itself on its pioneering attitude and notes it has been cited by the European Broadcasting Union as an exemplar of innovative thinking.
ATDI operations director Paul Grant comments: “It is fascinating to see markets changing like this. In nearly a quarter of a century of our relationship with regulators across the world, radio spectrum usage has altered out of all recognition. It is a privilege to go with the regulators on that journey and an honour that they trust our tools and expertise to help them in their vital work.”