BBC begins new DAB expansion programme

The BBC is to start phase four of its digital transmitter rollout this year, achieving approximately 97 percent coverage of the UK population by 2015. The announcement was made on Monday by BBC Distribution director Alix Pryde.
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The BBC is to start phase four of its digital transmitter rollout this year, achieving approximately 97 percent coverage of the UK population by 2015. The announcement was made at the Radio Academy Festival TechCon on Monday by BBC Distribution director Alix Pryde, who also argued the case for traditional broadcast delivery. Delivering the first ever TechCon keynote speech at The Lowry, Salford Quays, Pryde (pictured) said the first transmitter to come into operation as part of the new programme of DAB expansion for the BBC's national services would cover the Hampshire town of Basingstoke. She added that although there was no definite timetable yet it was hoped the site would be transmitting before Christmas. In total 162 new transmitters will be installed between now and the end of 2015, which Pryde commented was an average rate of three a fortnight. The work is being handled by transmission specialist Arqiva, which received the BBC order during the summer. Pryde said the project would make digital radio available to an additional 2.5 million people, on top of those already able to receive DAB signals. While many of the transmitters will be in regions that have not had BBC digital radio before - including parts of Wales, the Isle of Man and Guernsey - the intention was also to improve coverage in areas already receiving transmissions. "It's a big investment over a long period," Pryde commented, "By Christmas 2015, 49 in 50 people will have access to our UK-wide digital services." Other sessions at this year's TechCon highlighted the potential influence of new technologies for broadcasting, including IP streaming and 4G LTE broadcast, but Pryde said terrestrial FM and DAB transmissions were still the way to deliver radio to a large number of listeners. "This isn't a battle between broadcast and IP," she said, "and multicast IP will change things. But radio transmission as it is today is the best way to cope with the scale of heavy lifting to reach daytime audiences of 7.5 million people."


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