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It's like radio, but more complicated

Digital radio gets interactive with GPRS

The combination of DAB (digital audio broadcasting) with new mobile comms standards such as GPRS (general packet radio service) could change radios beyond recognition.

Speaking at the Wireless World conference in Singapore last week, Mikael Jigmo, head of Wilco Telephony Systems, noted that DAB 'has significant commercial potential especially with new and interactive content'. In other words, digital radio will become more like the web.

"Advertisements, information and entertainment can target a large audience via broadcasting while the individual users can order more information, make bookings, participate in interactive games using the GSM/GPRS channel," noted Jigmo.

Originally conceived to replace FM transmissions, DAB digitises transmissions and (in theory) improves the audio quality of radio. "DAB provides an array of technical advantages compared to what FM is capable of," said Jigmo. "It allows more radio stations in the air, better sound quality and better reception, especially in cars."

"However most people are not audiophiles and cannot justify paying more for a DAB receiver," he added.

Also, DAB is essentially a one-way technology suitable only for sending out more general information that is demanded by a greater percentage of the population.

The way round this is for service providers (broadcasters, in essence) can create interactivity by adding GPRS channels for users to respond to DAB broadcasts.

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