DRM Consortium Publishes Results on 2021 DELHI/JAIPUR DRM FM TRIAL
In February and March 2021, the DRM Consortium, its members and supporters in India and internationally, conducted an extensive demo/trial of the global, ITU recommended DRM Digital Radio Mondiale standard applied for local/regional services in the FM band. This demo was carried out at the request of the AIR (All India Radio) as part of an evaluation of two digital radio options for the FM band to choose from and recommend for adoption to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
The demo period started with a 2-day workshop at the AIR headquarters in Delhi with demonstrations of DRM key features, functionality, and on-air signal flexibility. This was followed by on-the-road measurements in New Delhi as well as Jaipur with a professional DRM receiver and a selection of commercial DRM receivers and mobile phones upgraded for DRM reception in the FM band.
The measurements were carried out based on a pure-digital single DRM signal (block) as well as multi-DRM configurations (placing multiple DRM blocks side-by-side from a single transmitter). DRM is a pure digital standard. However, simulcast operation (DRM and analogue FM signals side-by-side from a single transmitter) was also conducted from the same transmitter. DRM was also shown to work in FM white spaces without affecting ongoing analogue FM transmissions.
While the AIR R&D team carried out measurements on behalf of the evaluation Committee, the DRM Consortium in parallel undertook its own set of professional-grade measurements, both with a professional DRM monitoring receiver as well as with consumer-grade radio sets, car receivers and mobile phones.
While the final official recommendation of the AIR Committee is still awaited, the DRM Consortium has gathered and visualized the data and measurements it recorded in parallel with AIR in New Delhi and Jaipur. This document presents a first overview of the documented key findings. The results of the collected measurement data from the DRM FM-band trial in New Delhi and Jaipur are both extremely positive and very encouraging.
The measurements clearly demonstrate that DRM as the global all-bands digital radio standard can deliver an unmatched number of digital audio services in the given spectrum (up to 3 audio plus 1 multimedia service per DRM signal block), while allowing for maximum utilisation of the FM-band spectrum (with every DRM signal occupying only 96 kHz spectrum bandwidth, half the bandwidth analogue FM requires for a single audio service).
The trial also confirmed that DRM is fully compliant with the regulator’s (TRAI) recommendations and existing analogue FM spectrum licensing. Broadcasters could experience first-hand the great commercial potential of extending and eventually upgrading analogue FM services to DRM Digital Radio, enabled through added revenue by Journaline, and using the additional radio slots per DRM transmission to cater to the so far un-tapped audiences and temporary pop-up stations.
DRM in FM-band is the natural extension of the digital radio standard already deployed in the AM bands in India. DRM is made for today’s and tomorrow’s FM environment and radio services in India.