By the end of this month (March 2010) Brazil is expected to announce what standard it is going to choose for terrestrial digital radio. Until recently all signs indicated that they were going to opt for Ibiquity’s HD Radio, the standard used in the United States, but it now appears that Digital Radio Mondiale, or DRM, is gaining favour. If Brazil chooses DRM it will be the first major country to do so in the region and the size of its market (population 190 million) will help convince manufacturers to design and building DRM receivers for the mass market.
HD Radio is a proprietary solution that belongs to iBiquity Digital Corporation, which in turn belongs to a consortium that includes most of the large radio networks in the USA. DRM is an open standard developed by a consortium of European public broadcasters. iBiquity ‘s buiness model in the US involves charging licence fees to broadcasters. Fees start at about $10,000 annually and rise as more features are added to the basic package. DRM is an open standard and available for free.
According to an article by Luís Osvaldo Grossmann, Rádio Digital: Preferido pelos técnicos, DRM sofre ataques do Iboc, published on the Convergencia Digital website, iBiquity is taking the DRM threat very seriously and the company’s president , Robert Struble, has writen a “carta aos amigos brasileiros” seeking to “clarify some incorrect notions” about his company’s technology.
To date DRM’s biggest drawback has been the lack of affordable receivers. However, if Brazil opt for DRM the sheer market size of the regional power will make it attractive for manufacturers to design and build receivers for the mass market.
All India Radio (AIR) chose DRM as a standard late last year and has set out an ambitious plan to have its entire network of 149 MW, 54 SW and 171 FM transmitters running DRM by 2013 with an eye to shutting down analogue transmissions in 2015. According to an article in Dxers Guide AIR has said:
“The most important issues shall be to make available DRM receivers at affordable cost to the vast masses of India. It is expected that receiver manufacturers in India and abroad shall address this issue as DRM is progressively implemented in the next five years”.
If Brazil’s market isn’t attractive enough, India’s most certainly will be.