FAQ: DAB Radio & The "Switch Over"

There has been a long time murmuring about radio going completely digital, similar to the digital TV switch-over between 2007 and 2012 - but what really is the score with it on the radio airwaves?

What is the FM / DAB Radio “Switch-over” all about?

So far, there have been 12 million DAB Radios bought since the official “launch” of DAB Radio in the United Kingdom.

The Digital Radio United Kingdom organisation (DRUK) estimated that by the end of 2013, that number would have risen to 20 million.

DAB radio will eventually take over from FM radio, it's happened in Norway already, in the sense that major stations will be found only on digital platforms – but FM will continue to be around – however only lesser known stations will be on there.

This will mean that you will have access to many more radio stations at once, with some that are familiar and many that will be new to you.

Many people are choosing to adopt a DAB radio over an FM version now so that they are ready for the “switch-over” that is yet to be officially announced. This is when the FM stations will all migrate to DAB platforms and no longer be available on FM.

There is no rush to do this however, as is explained below. The important thing to consider at this moment in time is that it is down to your personal preference if you buy a DAB Radio over an FM Radio. There is no urgency to rid yourself of all FM radios.

When is the FM / DAB Radio “Switch-over” going to happen?

There were numerous reports that current FM frequency stations would cease broadcasting in 2015 – something which as we headed into 2015 dawned on people that would never happen.

Many people in the industry, including the head of audio marketing at Sony, have publicly said that “...the future of radio is DAB. But the conversion to DAB is an evolution that will take time... and we are extremely far away from that right now”.

There are literally tens of millions of FM radios in homes, offices and cars across the United Kingdom and for all of these to be replaced with DAB radios by 2015 was always a highly unlikely possibility.

However, in order for DAB Switch-over to happen, an increase in DAB radios does need to happen, hence why so many are on the market now.

DAB is now fitted as standard in most cars, and has been since around 2013.

There is currently no set date for the Digital Switch-over.

Why are we having this FM / DAB Radio “Switch-over”?

There are numerous reasons why the UK Government wants to bring in a Switch-over to DAB Radio. Some of the benefits DAB Radio offers include:

  • Many stations are available in more places – you can listen to your local stations when away from your home area.
  • Pause and Rewind* – You will be able to listen to missed bulletins and your favourite songs again with this feature.
  • Record* - Select shows to record to listen to when it’s convenient to you. *Not on all DAB Radios.
  • Easy Tuning – Select stations by their name and genre, not their frequencies.
  • Scrolling Text – You’ll be able to see information such as phone numbers, song information and news pieces on your DABs display.
  • You won’t need to change the frequency to stay with the same station no matter where you drive in the country.

Once the switch-over is complete you should have a lot more options when it comes to stations and genres of music than on FM.

You can find out what digital radio stations are available in your area by using the Postcode Checker here: DAB Postcode Search

So what about me?

If you’re considering buying a DAB radio from us, it is worth checking to see if there is an FM only version of the product too.

If you live in an area that does not cater well for DAB stations, it may be a better decision to opt for the FM version of a product.

This is because until you receive good quality DAB signal the DAB ability will be wasted and you will be using the FM ability as quality will be significantly higher. "FM Only" versions of our products are usually considerably cheaper too.

However – if you’re in an area that has been given good quality DAB coverage it may well be worth taking advantage of the availability and getting yourself a DAB Radio.

If this is the case, you will then be able to enjoy the extended variety of stations and you will be ready for when the switch-over does eventually happen.

Most DAB radios also work on FM frequencies too – so if you where to need it, it’s there as a back up.

So in conclusion; it’s very much down to your personal preference and how good the DAB coverage is where you live.

Either way – if you have any questions - get in touch with us and we'll be more than happy to help!