VT Communications continues to push the boundaries of digital radio broadcasting by launching its dual-channel Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) transmission service from Crystal Palace in South East London into Greater London. Partnering with Deutsche Welle and UBC Classic Gold VT Communications can now provide two discrete broadcast services over a single 20KHz transmission band centred at 25.7 MHz. This is the first time the double channel mode of DRM has been used for extensive field trials and further enhances VT Communications digital offering.

The 26 MHz band is designated as an international broadcast band, but is underused and could also be used to provide local “FM” type coverage. Demand for both FM (88-108 MHz) and DAB (band III) spectrum in the UK is very high, and DRM could offer broadcasters access to additional spectrum in addition revitalising existing MF and LF frequencies with enhanced audio quality.

The ability of the 26 MHz band to provide local and digital radio coverage adds to VT Communications existing regional and international DRM capability. In 1999 VT Communications started regular “ITU compliant” DRM tests from the Rampisham transmitter site in Dorset UK, to Europe. In 2003 a new high power MF transmitter was added to the portfolio, which now transmits the BBC World Service in digital quality to the Benelux countries. In March 2006, VT Communications announced a significant investment in a new high power HF transmitter at its Woofferton (Shropshire, UK) transmitter site. This will be operational by mid 2006.

VT Communications are also investing in a new broadcast centre designed to distribute audio in a totally digital format from studio to listener, including distribution of DRM. This will eliminate audio degradation caused by repeated conversion between analogue and digital, a surprisingly common problem with digital transmissions. The broadcast centre will also be able to format & distribute audio via a number of different routes, including archiving, podcasting, content repurposing and audio on demand. The 26 MHz service in London will showcase the broadcast centre technology, as data channels, Electronic programme guides (EPG) and a 3rd audio service are all scheduled for test during the course of 2006.

“VT Communications ongoing investment in DRM 26MHz and HF capability is part of our new Global Media Network” says Bryan Coombes, General Manager Broadcast at VT Communications. “This underlines our commitment to provide a digital service to satisfy all of our customers’ broadcasting requirements, from local through to truly international coverage”.

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