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Digital radio goes national mid-2009

In May 2009, you'll be able to hear rock and talk stations alike through the goodness of digital radio — across Australia.

After years of to-ing and fro-ing, the radio industry has finally set a date for digital radio to go live across the nation: May 2009.

According to industry body Commercial Radio Australia (CRA), all of the current commercial and national broadcasters in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth will start transmitting in the DAB+ standard. This will include both AM and FM stations.

The deadline was originally set at 1 January, 2009, but the Rudd Government has apparently given the industry some wiggle room. Though not too much, as according to Melissa Fleming from CRA, the government is looking to table a "use it or lose it" law which means stations will need to be up and running by July 2009 or lose the chance to go digital.

Australia was the first country in the world to test and incorporate the DAB+ standard — which doesn't require analog TV spectrum to work — and according to Fleming it's now starting to be used in Europe.

Manufacturers expected to release compatible equipment in the new year include Pure Digital, iRiver, Sangean, Yamaha and Intempo.

The advantages of digital over analog are the potential for improved audio quality and less noise — particularly on AM stations — and advanced features such as song title scrolling.

The Intempo RDI is a forthcoming iPod dock with a DAB+ tuner.