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DRM+ Trial and Workshop

Tuesday 04 Jan 2011
The Showcase, a first for the Asia-Pacific region, was a composite event, starting with a two-day field measurement campaign followed by a 3-day workshop.

On the first morning the group of DRM experts were greeted at the SLBC site by more than 30 delegates eager to participate in the hands-on setup of the DRM+ broadcast chain. After a general introduction to the DRM standard and its capabilities, and the explanation of the installation and trial tasks for the coming days, Albert Waal (RFmondial) and Friederkie Maier (University of Hanover) set-up and installed the transmission equipment at the SLBC site as well the receiver equipment for later measurements. The SLBC engineers were all extremely helpful and responded immediately to the smallest request for technical help. Whilst the technical set-up was going on, Alexander Zink (Fraunhofer IIS) demonstrated the configuration of a DRM ContentServer (broadcast encoder/multiplexer), allowing the group to experience different audio configurations for DRM+. Roland Groschus from Deutsche Welle had arranged their minibus to be made available for the trial and Monday afternoon and Tuesday was spent driving around the city plotting the location and strength of the received signal. Reception was good, although as expected, there were occasional drop outs when travelling through heavily built-up areas or when passing by other powerful transmitters. Seong-Jun Kim from KETI also experienced good results with their DRM+ receiver. Overall, the mobile test reception was very encouraging and the area of good reception exceeded the predicted coverage area. The trial successfully demonstrated and evaluated the DRM+ technology. The importance of this demonstration is that local radio coverage is possible with good quality audio using only low power transmitters.

The workshop began on Wednesday with over fifty delegates attending. The workshop provided tutorial information about the DRM+ digital radio system. The first day was spent looking at the DRM Digital Radio standard and its set of exciting functionality, the international take-up of DRM and focused on the DRM30 developments in India. The ABU gave some insights into digital developments in the Asia-Pacific Region and focused on how All India Radio have an aggressive 5-year timetable to roll-out DRM, with an aim to be fully digital by 2015.

Thursday was the ‘hands-on’ day and focused on the Sri Lankan DRM+ trial. Initially the DRM team faced the short-notice challenge of having to re-locate the DRM transmission equipment and to also move the transmission to a different frequency! It was proof of the simplicity of the DRM system that the equipment was moved, re-configured and was up and running again within two hours! The workshop delegates were then invited to have a go at building their own DRM broadcast, configuring text and applying RSS feeds within a Journaline service. They could also experience for themselves how the live DRM+ transmission sounded using Rfmondial and KETI software receivers. They were also very impressed by the 5.1 surround sound contained in the live on-air DRM+ signal ‘City FM’ by SLBC. Live reception on the 26th floor of the World Trade Centre was very good, despite there being an FM station transmission going out only a few floors above! The Uniwave and Himalaya DRM radios were also on show, picking up ‘live’ programmes from the BBC and Deutsche-Welle broadcasting in DRM30, including Journaline text news items. Delegates could also experience a preview of the Diveemo small-scale video service for DRM transmissions, that is currently being finalized for standardization by the DRM Consortium.

The final morning proved to be a lively session looking at the developments in the receiver markets. TVB Subbrahmanyam (Analog Devices) and Ludo Maes (TDP) updated everyone on the latest chipset technology and described how various manufacturers were responding to the latest DRM initiatives. Delegates were then encouraged to join the DRM Consortium and to start a national discussion on how DRM+ could become a reality as the future solution for Digital Radio in Sri Lanka.

The DRM Consortium are most grateful to the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, Sri Lankan Broadcasting Company for their support.

The first DRM+ trial in Asia Pacific region was not only a great success but also good preparation for future DRM+ presentation and workshops at Radio Asia and Digital Broadcasting Symposium.