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EDITIONS
Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 17:37 GMT
Digital radio: Q&A
Digital radio
Digital radio: Your questions answered
What is digital radio?

Digital radio is a more advanced system of sending information over the airwaves. It is the future of radio because the government plans to switch off the current system.

How does it work?

Instead of sending waves which directly represent the original sound digital radio converts the information into binary "ones" and "zeroes", the building blocks of digital informaton.

These are carried by the radio waves in a way that is resistant to interference.

How do I receive digital radio?

You need a digital receiver. Unlike TV's you cannot buy a digital set top box for radio. You need to buy a new digital radio - either for the home or the car - or a digital receiver for your PC.

What does it offer?

Improved sound quality, many more radio stations and the added possibility of text, and even pictures, along with audio.

Digital radio is far easier to use and does not suffer from interference and as you travel around in a car there is no need to keep retuning.

The BBC offers the following text services via digital radio - news and sport headlines, football scores on Radio 5Live Sports Plus and band details on BBC Radio 1.

How many digital radio stations are there?

The average listener can now tune in to 24 digital radio channels.

There are six BBC national stations and 10 commercial national stations as well as a whole raft of local stations.

There are expected to be more than 310 digital radio stations by the end of 2002.

How much does it cost?

High street prices range from around 349 to 1200 for in-car and 450 to 2300 for hi-fi systems.

But once you have a digital radio there are no more charges to pay.

Why is it so expensive?

There are a number of reasons. Manufacturers are not mass producing sets at the moment and so far many firms are only selling digital radio as a sophisticated hi-fi separate.

How many digital radios have been sold?

The figure is still in the thousands rather than the tens of thousands.

Where can I receive digital radio?

About 78% of the UK population, more than 43 million people, can receive digital radio now.

Large parts of Wales and Scotland do not receive digital radio yet.

When will analogue radio (AM/FM/Medium Wave) be switched off?

Not for many years. Analogue TV is due to be switched off between 2006 and 2010 although analogue radio will be switched off later.



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