What Does Digital Radio Switchover Mean for Cars?
Plans for a digital radio switchover have been put in place by the government for the coming years. Find out what this means for drivers with Halfords' handy guide.
Radio is the main provider of entertainment and information for many motorists while on the road. That's why it's important for drivers to be aware of the digital switchover plans - make sure you're up to speed with the guidance below.
WHY DO WE NEED A DIGITAL SWITCHOVER FOR RADIO?
Digital broadcasting is more efficient than analogue, allowing for more stations than FM. The government is keen to switch to digital radio, as it will open up much more space on the airwaves and offer better choice for you, the listener.
The plan is for all UK national radio stations and most local/regional stations to switch to digital audio broadcasting (DAB). This includes both BBC stations and commercial ones - some local and community stations will continue to broadcast using FM.
WHEN IS THE DIGITAL RADIO SWITCHOVER DATE?
At the moment, there isn't a definite date set for the digital radio switchover - however, the industry is aiming for around 2015. The government has said that three targets must be met before a date is set:
- National digital radio must match FM coverage (currently 98%)
- Local digital radio must reach 90% of the population and all major roads
- 50% of radio listening must be on digital radio platforms
Once these are met, the switchover will happen in no less than 2 years, giving people plenty of time to prepare.
WHAT DOES THE DIGITAL RADIO SWITCHOVER MEAN FOR DRIVERS?
In the future, new cars may come fitted with DAB car radios as standard. However, the majority of existing cars will probably have radios that can only pick up FM or AM.
Invest in a DAB car radio and you'll be able to continue listening to your favourite station after it goes digital.áLuckily, DAB radios also pick up FM, offering a choice between digital and analogue in the meantime.
WHAT IS DAB COVERAGE LIKE ON THE ROADS?
Just like FM, digital radio coverage varies between areas. Overall UK coverage is good and will be continually improved - all major roads will be covered by DAB radio before the digital radio switchover is allowed to take place.
People say that you can't get a good DAB reception inside a car. However, fitting a good quality antenna either outside the car (e.g. magnetic external antenna), or inside the windscreen of the car will ensure best reception of the available signal. Halfords offer a range of antenna options in store.
HOW CAN I UPGRADE MY CAR RADIO TO DAB?
If you want to buy a DAB car radio before the digital radio switchover, you have three main options.
You can buy a DAB adaptor that allows you to listen to digital stations using your existing car audio system - the adaptor simply fixes onto the windscreen like a sat nav.
The second option is to keep your existing stereo and buy a hidden adaptor that allows you to use your factory steering controls.
Thirdly you can replace your factory car stereo with a DAB radio. This frees up the windscreen and allows for more compact placement. You can even add functions such as iPod/iPhone, USB, Bluetooth, and hands free connectivity.
See our DAB car radios buyer's guide to find our more, or feel free to pop into your local Halfords store with any questions about DAB radio or the digital radio switchover.