CRA: Mobile Networks No Replacement For Broadcast Free-To-Air Radio

Written by Martin Kovacs     01/12/2014 | 13:00 | Category: DIGITAL RADIO

Mobile broadband communications networks, particularly in regional areas, are not a replacement for broadcast free-to-air radio, according to the findings of a report released today by Commercial Radio Australia (CRA).

CRA: Mobile Networks No Replacement For Broadcast Free-To-Air RadioThe report, commissioned by the commercial radio industry and written by telecommunications expert Professor Reg Coutts, considers the potential for mobile networks to be expanded to a point where they are viable to accommodate all live free-to-air radio broadcasting as a replacement for broadcast radio, and/or instead of rolling out DAB+ digital radio.

Among the report's findings is that mobile networks in regional Australia are less cost effective compared to a potential DAB+ digital radio rollout in regional areas.  

Even with upgraded 4G networks using the most advanced LTE-Broadcast mode, the report found there are technical and economic reasons for radio to be delivered using free-to-air broadcast technology in both regional and metropolitan areas.

"There are a lot of misperceptions around the future of broadcast radio, mobile networks and the delivery of radio online, and this report shows it may not yet, or even in the longer term, be technically or financially viable," commented CRA chief executive officer Joan Warner.

The report finds broadcast digital radio is "globally where innovation is happening".

"The government is currently depriving regional listeners of digital radio, unlike their city cousins who have both digital radio and internet radio," Coutts states in the report.

The report also suggests there is considerable uncertainty as to a plausible business model to support the upgrade of regional mobile networks from 3G to the most advanced form of 4G LTE-Broadcast, CRA stated, and it would mean listeners would have to pay via a data plan.   

There would be significant impact on mobile cell capacity for other user applications, CRA further stated, even if LTE-Broadcast is "able to be used to replicate broadcast radio's live reach, robustness and quality".