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Norway Pioneers the Digital Radio Future, Abandoning FM

The world watches as Norway makes the switch from analog to digital

3 min read
Norway Pioneers the Digital Radio Future, Abandoning FM
Illustration: Elias Stein

Music recordings, video, television, and motion pictures—all have started or completed the transition from analog to digital. Oddly, though, broadcast radio remains largely analog around the world, despite the availability of digital services for more than a decade. But a major milestone for digital radio is coming in 2017, in Norway of all places.

The world’s big broadcasters will be tuning in to see the preparations in 2016 as Norway moves its national FM broadcasters from analog transmissions to a digital format. The switchover will be to the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) standard, a European-originated system also making inroads in Asia and Australia. (In the United States, the HD Radio standard has had a lukewarm reception with consumers since it was introduced in 2003.) Starting in stages from January of 2017 and rolling through the long length of the country, Norway’s three national broadcasters, several regional commercial stations, and many urban transmitters will fall silent on FM bands while filling the air with digital packets broadcast at higher frequencies.

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