The countdown to digital radio has begun, with free-to-air DAB+ broadcasts starting in selected capital cities on 1 January, 2009.
Trial digital broadcasts using the DAB+ broadcast standard -- which requires less bandwidth than the DAB standard used internationally --.
Few DAB+ compatible receivers are available to Australian consumers during the trial phase, but a range of devices will appear from October, according to Commercial Radio Australia spokesperson Brian Johnson. Retail prices will start at about AU$150, he said.
Meanwhile, DAB devices will not receive digital transmissions, as Australian broadcasts will use DAB+ exclusively.
In addition to radios, DAB+ devices include iPod dongles and mobile devices. In October 2007, a digital radio-enabled mobile phone was displayed at the Commercial Radio National Conference in Melbourne. The handset showcased digital radio's multimedia features, such as visual content and track details.
In a statement released today, Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner described the commencement of digital radio as "one of the most significant milestones in Australian broadcasting history". The digital broadcasts will provide static-free audio as well as delivering text, images and extra advertising information.
Broadcasting begins in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart on 1 January, with other locations to follow.