Yes, We have a license!
The most important thing to start DAB+ broadcasting is, of course, the broadcasting license. Procedures for obtaining such a license varies from country to country. There are also many differences about who can apply for a DAB+ broadcasting license. That is the reason we can not give detailed advice on this topic.
However, we know that small-scale DAB+ is often a case of close cooperation between existing community FM radios. Competition is often why the way to DAB+ will not always be a walk in the park. We strongly suggest independent radios cooperate positively on their way to DAB+.
When you, as a radio broadcaster or with a group of radio broadcasters, get a broadcasting license, the following question will have to be asked: “are we going to outsource the operation of the DAB+ transmission, or are we going to operate it ourselves?”
Outsource to a DAB service provider?
Outsourcing to a DAB service provider offers some advantages:
- you will turn high investment costs into a monthly service fee,
- no headage for solving technical problems,
- a good DAB operator has the necessary DAB+ expertise already in-house.
The operator will charge a monthly service fee for using his technical infrastructure and the monthly operating costs. Negotiations with the service operator will result in a contract between both parties.
Making a good agreement with the service provider will avoid surprises later on. What is the agreed service scope? What services are part of the contract, and which are not? Make sure the service scope and the corresponding cost are clear and not doubtful.
Everything you do yourself, you do better?
The above expression is questionable. But you may consider that what you do yourself will cost less money and will certainly give you more technical freedom.
If there are technical bumps in the participating radio broadcasters, you might consider setting up the complete installation yourself. You will have to look for the necessary DAB+ transmission equipment, relatively high antenna towers or buildings (min. 50m or higher for a decent DAB+ coverage), and adequate network solutions for connecting the studio, ensemble MUX, and transmitter sites.
In terms of equipment, most of the functionality will be software running on a computer. A solution running on Linux (via Raspberry PI or better) with ODR (Open Digital Radio) and a DAB+ exciter (Easy DAB, PCS DAB+ exciter, etcetera) can be chosen (depending on the available budget). But meanwhile, there are also complete turnkey transmitter systems available. Some systems are more affordable than others.
Whatever equipment you use, the technical people will have to be responsible for setting it up and maintaining the DAB+ transmitter infrastructure. To help you with this, in this “How to start” section, we will describe how to set up such a DAB+ MUX step by step.