The widespread introduction of digital radio in Australia has inched closer with the world's first test of the new digital radio standard, DAB+, in Sydney today.
Adoption of the new DAB+ standard wouldn't require all the existing analog TV stations to be taken off air, as the current DAB standard would, meaning that digital radio stations could be launched much sooner than the current timeframe of 2010 or later. This is because the new DAB+ standard, which uses the AAC codec seen in the iPod, doesn't require as much bandwidth as the existing DAB standard.
At the moment it's only an industry test, but all of the commercial and public broadcasters (ABC and SBS) are participating. However, the only "listener" at this stage is a technician's PC with a DAB+ tuner on-board.
Presently no consumer equipment is available which can decode DAB+. There are, however, plenty of devices in the pipeline, including standalone tuners and an iPod dongle, which should retail for around AU$100. These are expected to arrive on shelves by Christmas -- in time for the official public test in January 2008.