By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: Australian commercial radio broadcasters today unveiled what the future of radio might look like — a digital radio-enabled mobile phone that allows users to view, navigate and store visual content such as images and slides broadcast by radio stations.

The handset features the Visual DAB/DAB+ digital radio platform that can be used to deliver visual information such as artist and track details, news headlines, weather and competitions. It was developed by Cambridge-based The Technology Partnership (TTP), with broadcast software developed by All In Media (AIM), in collaboration with Australian radio broadcasters.

Building digital radio data services into mobile phones opens up opportunities in the future for a range of interactive services such as competitions, music charts, shopping, voting and user generated content, as well as revenue opportunities through special offers and electronic coupons.

“Australian radio broadcasters are committed to getting digital radio and its exciting multimedia features into mobile phones. By working with TTP and All In Media we’ll now be able to demonstrate some of the exciting possibilities that digital radio is capable of bringing to hand sets when digital radio is officially launched,” said Joan Warner, chief executive officer of Commercial Radio Australia.

Ms Warner said Commercial Radio Australia had taken delivery of a number of the phones and would be seeking meetings with the major telecoms to discuss the opportunities. A consumer trial of the service is planned in 2008.

The Federal Government has set an official start date of 1 January 2009 for digital radio in Australia, allowing national and commercial radio stations to multichannel and broadcast images, data and broadcast websites, which use a back channel to deliver pages of web content to compatible digital radio sets.