Countdown to digital radio switch-on begins

By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: Digital radio is a step closer to reality in Australia today, with Commercial Radio Australia announcing some of the successful tenders for the network’s construction.

The tenders, according to Commercial Radio Australia, include German company Rohde & Schwarz, Swedish firm Factum, Perth-based infrastructure company The United Group and New Zealand-based infrastructure management group Kordia.

Rohde & Schwarz will handle transmitter installation, while Factum will supply the multiplexers and coders. The United Group will help with systems integration services and ‘pre-build’, while Kordia will offer project management support.

Commercial Radio Australia chief executive, Joan Warner, said the announcement represented a significant development in Australia’s migration to digital radio.

“We are now literally building towards a new era, one that will deliver a multi-media experience to radio listeners, broadcasters and advertisers alike,” she said.

“The successful tenders have come through a competitive bidding process and will be working to our timelines to deliver the equipment that will make digital radio an exciting new media proposition.”

Warner denied that construction would run late, though, despite the winning companies having less than six months to build a network to cover Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

“We’ve been working on this since mid last year. So it’s not that we’re just starting now – it’s that we started last year and started our tenders,” she said.

Warner said the tenders were decided approximately two months ago, but sorting final details meant contract signings only took place recently.

As a result, orders had already been put through, she said, and she was sticking to her December switch-on target, with programming starting from 1 January, as announced previously.

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