News      |      Events

TRAI – India submits recommendations on Digital Radio Broadcasting

The Telecom Regulatory Authority India (TRAI) has submitted its recommendations on Digital Radio Broadcasting in India and said that the government should notify a policy framework for digital radio broadcasting in the country in a time-bound manner with a clear roadmap for roll-out of services to enable smooth transition from analogue to digital mode.

It has suggested allowing the private sector to provide services within the existing frequency band of 88–108 MHz used for FM radio broadcasting. The authority has said that there is a need to facilitate digital radio broadcasting in India to effectively utilise spectrum in VHF-II band for Radio broadcasting, to provide diverse content and other value-added services to radio listeners.

It urged the Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing of department of telecom (DoT) to carry out necessary amendments in National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP)-2011 for permitting radio broadcasting including digital radio broadcasting in MW, SW, and VHF-II frequency bands also, which are already identified for and being used for radio broadcasting in India.

It also noted that the WPC should notify the channel plan for each type of digital radio broadcasting technology. The authority stated that the auction should be carried out in phases – starting with cities of category ‘A+’ and ‘A’ and subsequently in cities of other categories.

After the auction, an offer should be made to the existing FM Radio broadcasters to get their existing frequency bandwidth of +100 KHz, already allocated to them through auction in Phase-III of FM Radio, liberalised and provide digital radio broadcasting services in simulcast mode with analog FM Radio services once the auction is completed.

“For liberalising of existing spectrum already allocated to the FM radio broadcasters in Phase-III of FM Radio, they will have to pay an amount equal to the difference of auction determined price of equivalent spectrum for digital radio broadcasting in a city and amount paid for allocation of FM radio frequency,” it said.

In case radio broadcasters opt for digital technology, they should be permitted to broadcast more than one channel subject to technical feasibility on a single frequency allocated to them.

The government should grant fiscal incentives in the form of lower taxes to manufacturers of digital radio receivers for three years after declaring the policy, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) suggested.

It also recommended auctioning of 200 khz bandwith spectrum in ‘VHF-II’ band in phases for providing digital radio broadcasting services. Presently, radio signals are largely transmitted in analog mode which is inefficient and suffers from operational restrictions as compared to digital mode, a TRAI statement read.

The authority hoped that the recommendations would enable smooth transition from analog to digital radio broadcasting services.