Exclusive: DTV Workshop 2007 - From a Discussion Concerning the Move Towards Full-fledged DTV

2007.11.22 UP

We were able to listen in on an extremely interesting series of lectures entitled "DTV Workshop 2007 – Towards Full-fledged DTV" (sponsored and managed by the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association) given on November 20 in International Convention Hall A, a separate venue from the exhibition hall. The lectures covered:
(1) Terrestrial broadcast digitization
(2) ISDB-T promotion activities overseas
(3) The current situation and future of terrestrial cell phone type reception

The talk based on the third theme, "The current situation and future of terrestrial cell phone type reception", also touched on the other theme of "The current situation and future development of digital radio".

When asked what digital radio is, how many people can immediately reply correctly? I include myself with those who can't answer that question, which is why I decided to take this opportunity to learn.

As its name implies, digital radio refers to radio broadcasts using digital modulation. Compared to conventional AM and FM radio, digital radio is distinguished by features such as less noise due to changes in reception conditions, high sound quality, data transmission and a wide range of other additional services. Practical application tests of digital radio began in Tokyo and Osaka in October 2003. At present, 16 companies are participating in the tests and 20 channels are being broadcast. Apparently, about one million reception terminals have been made available. Technically speaking, the technology used is the same as that in recent cell phones for one-segment digital TV broadcasts aimed at the mobile terminals that are continuing to increase in number. Not being involved in the field of technology, when I listen to other people talk about it I become confused about the difference between one-segment broadcasts and digital radio. The decisive difference between the two is that one-segment TV uses UHF waves while digital radio uses VHF waves.

Even though I'm not a very technical person, I'm very interested in the future development of digital radio. The United Kingdom was the first to attempt digital radio when the BBC began trial broadcasts in 1990, followed by the start of full-scale broadcasts in London in September 1995. Unlike the system in Japan, that used in the UK is the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) system.

So how did the UK, the leader of the pack, manage to popularize digital broadcasts? According to the British members of staff from iabm, who have come to Japan for Inter BEE, the number of people listening to digital radio in London is still limited. And even now, digital and analog broadcasts exist side by side. So digital radio can't really be said to have been a total success. In the UK, inexpensive reception terminals are also available and they were a popular Christmas present some years ago, but as expected, the key to the success of digital radio depends on the further dissemination of reception terminals.

At the moment in Japan, the aim is to begin full-scale digital radio broadcasts and develop them nationwide after 2011. I must say, I'm very interested in seeing how this will change things at the radio production site.

[Mitsuru Nomura, radio director]