For some radio listeners in Norway, there will be dead air when they turn on their favourite station. District by district, Norway is replacing all FM networks with digital radio by the end of 2017.
The nation of 5 million people will become the first in the world to phase out analog signals in favor of Digital Audio Broadcasting, or DAB.
Promoters of the digital system say it allows for more channels, provides better reception and has lower operating costs than traditional FM. Norway claims the move will free up cash for broadcasters to invest in programing.
It’s estimated 70 percent of Norwegian households already regularly tune in digitally. In an email, Culture Minister Linda Hofstad Helleland said she was “quite comfortable” that the nation of “early adapters” was ready to embrace the digital future.
Still, the move to DAB has sparked debate in Norway, with two-thirds of the population opposing the move, according to a recent poll.
Between 2.2 and 2.3 million cars have no DAB. Motorists will either have to get a new radio costing in the region of 4,000 kroner ($468 US) or buy an adapter for around 1,500 kroner ($175 US). Consumers can also pick up the digital signal through their television sets or the internet.
Switzerland has said it plans a similar shift from 2020 and Denmark and the U.K. are among those also considering dropping FM.