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posted by janrinok on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the more-haste-less-satisfaction dept.

Norway is set to become the first nation to start switching off its FM radio network next week, in a risky and unpopular leap to digital technology that will be closely watched by other countries considering whether to follow suit.

Critics say the government is rushing the move and many people may miss warnings on emergencies that have until now been broadcast via the radio. Of particular concern are the two million cars on Norway's roads that are not equipped with digital audio broadcasting (DAB) receivers, they say.

Sixty-six per cent of Norwegians oppose switching off FM, with just 17 per cent in favour and the rest undecided, according to an opinion poll published by the daily Dagbladet last month.

Nevertheless, parliament gave the final go-ahead for the move last month, swayed by the fact that digital networks can carry more radio channels.

Should there be a push to switch off FM radio in order to 'persuade' users to upgrade their receiving equipment? Or should the change be implemented much more slowly to enable FM radios to be replaced as they age? How would you do it?


Original Submission

Related Stories

Samsung to "Unlock" FM Chip in Galaxy S9 and Future Smartphones 21 comments

Samsung says it will be unlocking the FM chips in its future smartphones:

Samsung and NextRadio on Wednesday announced the handset-maker will begin shipping phones in the US and Canada with the FM radio chip unlocked. Currently, Samsung was shipping some devices with the FM radio access unlocked, while others (often dependent upon carrier whims) had a locked FM radio chip.

An unlocked FM radio chip in a smartphone not only provides free access to local radio stations, but also, in emergency situations, access to important information.

What is NextRadio?

Emmis Communications is an American media conglomerate based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The company owns radio stations and magazines in the United States and Slovakia.

[...] The NextRadio smartphone app was developed by Emmis, with support from the National Association of Broadcasters, to take advantage of mobile devices with activated internal FM receivers. NextRadio allows users of select FM-enabled smartphones to listen to live broadcast FM radio while receiving supplemental data such as album art, program information, and metadata over the internet. Launched in August 2013 through a radio industry agreement with Sprint Corporation, the app is available preloaded on select devices it is also available for download in the Google Play Store.

Do you need to use their app to access the FM chip? The press release says:

Market leaders like Samsung are taking the step of unlocking the FM Chip, which will allow Samsung users to connect directly with the NextRadio app, listen to their favorite local stations, and use less battery and less data than streaming radio apps.

Take "unlocked" with a grain of salt.

Previously: FCC Chairman Encourages Activation of FM Chips in Smartphones
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Calls on Apple to Activate Imaginary FM Chips

Related: Smartphone with FM Radio Tells Your Position
Developers Working to Get FM Radio Function Enabled in BQ Ubuntu Phones
Norway to Become 1st Country to Switch Off FM Radio


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:42AM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:42AM (#450585) Journal

    Someone stands to make money by forcing these "upgrades". I believe that FM radio in the US is still very valuable. Maybe even indispensable. Maybe things are a little different in Norway, but the approval ratings cited in TFS say that they are much the same.

    --
    On the plus side, I am completely immune to flash-bang grenades. - Helen Keller
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:51AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:51AM (#450592)

      Look to who is pushing the idea you will find the money. My bet is some sort of mandated encryption is at the center of it.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:53AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:53AM (#450594)

      The only remaining purpose for broadcast radio is radical political commentary, as you well know.

    • (Score: 2) by Uncle_Al on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:11AM

      by Uncle_Al (1108) on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:11AM (#450602)

        "digital networks can carry more radio channels."

      so broadcasters get X number more channels for the same license, just like digital TV did in the US

      sounds like a great deal to me.. for EXISTING LICENSE HOLDERS

      wonder if they would be so happy if they had to GIVE those extra slots to others

      it also drives the little guys out who can't afford the upgrade (as in the non-religious non-comm bottom of the 'dial' folks)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @10:50AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @10:50AM (#450683)
    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday January 07 2017, @07:46PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Saturday January 07 2017, @07:46PM (#450814) Homepage Journal

      We already have digital FM. Many analog stations use a tiny bit of their bandwidth to carry the digital signals. KSHE in St Loius has two digital channels as well as its analog channel, all on the same frequency.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:51AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:51AM (#450591)

    I don't even remember what FM radio is anymore. I've been listening to streaming radio over the internet since 1998, the year the DMCA made it legal.

    Oh no. I said DMCA. And I implied the DMCA did something good for internet radio. That's flamebait on this backward shithole site. Fuck. Better fix it by spamming the obligatory popular opinion.

    DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD == DMCA == BAD

    • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:03AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:03AM (#450597)

      So brave, standing up to them like that. But it would be better if you killed yourself.

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:08AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:08AM (#450598)

        But if I kill myself then who will continue my hate campaign against soystain corporate fake news and all the closed minded moronic idiots who read it?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @07:04AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @07:04AM (#450639)

          Aristarchus, he's incapable of comprehending even remedial English. I'm sure he'll pick up the torch.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:51AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:51AM (#450593)

    Sheeeeit.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:57AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @03:57AM (#450595)

      Ironic considering the cellphone is a two-way digital radio. And isn't that an improvement? It's digital, so you get the benefit of error correction and recovery. It's two-way, so you can post pics of your anus, I mean, voice your opinion whenever you want.

  • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:10AM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:10AM (#450601)

    I don't live in Norway, and I listen to FM radio maybe an hour a week. But if you vote to take away my FM band without giving me money to replace both my car and my living room stereo I'm gonna vote your ass out of office first chance I get. I don't care where you stand on gun control, abortion, nuclear proliferation, or banging 8 year olds. Your ass is grass to me.

    --
    The journey of a thousand miles may begin with the first step being in a pile of doggie doo.
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:13AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:13AM (#450603)

      Instead of buying a subsidized converter box, how many people did you murder ten years ago, when your NTSC was replaced by ATSC?

      • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:55AM

        by Snotnose (1623) on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:55AM (#450613)

        I live in a hilly area (San Diego) where you can point your antenna to get 1 good station, 2-3 iffy stations. So I've got cable, have since my parents got it 50+ years ago.

        FWIW, got an HDTV 4-5 years back, got 3-4 antennas from Amazon to plug into it. Still 1 good station, 2-3 iffy stations.

        In San Diego you're pretty much stuck with cable.

        --
        The journey of a thousand miles may begin with the first step being in a pile of doggie doo.
        • (Score: 2) by nethead on Saturday January 07 2017, @05:44AM

          by nethead (4970) <joe@nethead.com> on Saturday January 07 2017, @05:44AM (#450627) Homepage

          Tell me about it. I live in a native fishing village north of Seattle. I have to listen to the Seahawks games on AM radio.

          The one TV in the bedroom is hooked to a 5 year old Mint Linux box that we "stream" TPB from.

          At least I don't waste a lot of time in the summer watching the Mariners crash and burn yet another year.

          --
          How did my SN UID end up over 3 times my /. UID?
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:19AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:19AM (#450605)

    Is there even any use to switch to DAB now? With cheap mobile internet connections one can listen to any streaming station in the world.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:38AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @04:38AM (#450610)

      Switch off FM radio and sell the spectrum to Telenor instead for use by mobile phones. Of course at such low frequency your data rate will be so slow you'll see everyone on social media complaining about their speedtests and why can't it be faster.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday January 07 2017, @05:03AM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday January 07 2017, @05:03AM (#450616)

      When one has data coverage, one can stream stations digitally.

      We have 4 cars, they range from a 1991 through a 2002. The 1999 truck's radio died and I replaced it with a $100 bluetooth / digital capable unit (cost me a $50 install) - it's kinda weird getting in the old truck and having better technology than the 2002 Mercedes S class.

      • (Score: 2) by nethead on Saturday January 07 2017, @05:59AM

        by nethead (4970) <joe@nethead.com> on Saturday January 07 2017, @05:59AM (#450628) Homepage

        I hear that. My used 98 Volvo V70 came with BT (even speaker phone) and I listen to podcasts off my company supplied iPhone all the time. Took our 2001 Volvo S60 on a road trip to South Dakota from the Seattle area with the factory unit and had to deal with the BT to FM thing. Good in theory but sucks when you go long distances and keep having to find clear FM channels.

        So the old V70 wagon is chosen as the daily driver.

        --
        How did my SN UID end up over 3 times my /. UID?
    • (Score: 2) by nethead on Saturday January 07 2017, @05:37AM

      by nethead (4970) <joe@nethead.com> on Saturday January 07 2017, @05:37AM (#450624) Homepage

      With cheap mobile internet connections ...

      You East Coast people are funny.

      --
      How did my SN UID end up over 3 times my /. UID?
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @06:21AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @06:21AM (#450630)

        cheap where?.... Oh and is it reliable? Oh can it work when I drive between two cities or visit my family? Is it still cheap?

      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday January 07 2017, @07:53PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Saturday January 07 2017, @07:53PM (#450816) Homepage Journal

        LOL, I'm in Illinois paying $42 per month for unlimited everything including internet. There are more companies like that, and they're nation wide.

        If you live alone and use AT&T or one of the other big guys, you're a fool.

        Also, there's an app called "Next Radio" that will let you listen to local FM broadcasts on Apple and Android without using your data for streaming, it plays the station's analog broadcast signal. I'm waiting for an app that will let me watch broadcast TV on my phone.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by maxwell demon on Saturday January 07 2017, @07:37AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 07 2017, @07:37AM (#450643) Journal

      Yes. Internet streaming eats into your data cap. FM radio doesn't. Also in my experience, there are far more places without mobile connectivity than without radio reception.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
    • (Score: 1) by purple_cobra on Saturday January 07 2017, @11:18PM

      by purple_cobra (1435) on Saturday January 07 2017, @11:18PM (#450876)

      A friend of a friend has a small pirate radio station and knows a little about the ins and outs of DAB and DAB+ (I think; could be DAB2). His take was that DAB is shit and a waste of time, and that it was stillborn as the DAB+ standard had already been solidified before a single DAB station was on-air in the UK. There was no killer app for DAB so it was never a must-have feature on audio equipment, which in turn means that DAB/DAB+ is only ever a minor concern to the audio equipment-buying punter. Coverage was pretty poor for a good while too, nothing like as ubiquitous as FM.
      To add further nails to the coffin, licences for broadcasting DAB were absolutely ridiculous prices, an order of magnitude over and above FM. A couple of stations I used to listen to had DAB services for ~12 months - presumably as the first year had a lower cost licence - then canned them as the listening figures were so poor.
      One of those - Team Rock - never really recovered, though their business plan seemed optimistic in the first place (radio station + magazines + web site in a niche market, trying to sell subscriptions to a "premium" secton of the web site); they went into administration late last year.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bradley13 on Saturday January 07 2017, @10:05AM

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 07 2017, @10:05AM (#450675) Homepage Journal

    This is coming to Switzerland soon. I've been ignoring it, because we rarely listen to the radio except in the car, but...why? So I went surfing for the reasons behind the switch. Here are the advantages of digital radio, along with my off-the-cuff reactions. Feel free to chime in with your own pros and cons...

    - Clear audio signal.

    Hmmm...analog FM is already very clear. I wonder about degradation. In Switzerland, with lots of mountains, stations tend to fade in and out. A weak analog signal is still usable. A weak digital signal? Unlikely, unless they are packing in a pile of error correction.

    - Digital radio transmits additional information that your radio is able to display. Examples include program information to show what is on now and coming up next, weather forecasts, news headlines, and for music stations you can see artist and track names.

    Program information is already being transmitted [wikipedia.org], piggybacking on top of the analog signal. Weather forecasts? News headlines? This is radio, to listen, and should not be trying to reinvent the internet. If you want news, you can switch to a news station.

    - More advanced digital radios allow the display of images.

    Um...why? I was in a rental car just yesterday that had a massive display for the radio. Even if you turned the radio off, there was a fancy graphical image on the display. I really, really want them to start displaying album cover art, which will be promptly followed by animations and - wait for it - advertisements. This is going to be very distracting to drivers.

    - Some also allow you to record radio programs for later playback, or even pause live radio while you answer the phone.

    Nothing to do with digital at all. Those are perfectly fine features that could be easily added to analog radio.

    tl;dr: So...why? My best guess is truly the advertising - being able to sell radios with displays that they can plaster with visual ads.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @05:21PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 07 2017, @05:21PM (#450771)

      a massive display for the radio. Even if you turned the radio off, there was a fancy graphical image
      [...]
      animations and - wait for it - advertisements. This is going to be very distracting to drivers

      Handled by a piece of cardboard cut to the proper shape and size plus a bit of Blu Tack. [google.com]

      ...but I do see your point: "The System" trying to worm its way into every corner of your life.

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

    • (Score: 2) by richtopia on Saturday January 07 2017, @07:39PM

      by richtopia (3160) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 07 2017, @07:39PM (#450807) Homepage Journal

      I haven't researched radio so I may be mistaken, but with switching from analogue TV to digital I was under the impression that freeing up spectral bandwidth was the true reason. Every other benefit was just because the technology was there. Is it not the same for FM radio?

      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Saturday January 07 2017, @08:06PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Saturday January 07 2017, @08:06PM (#450820) Homepage Journal

        Digital TV didn't just free up bandwidth, it allowed HDTV to be broadcast, and there's no snow or ghosting. Since TV went digital, there's absolutely no reason whatever to have cable, unless you're running a bar.

        OTOH if there would be ghosts, you lose the signal on digital. Since digital, I can no longer pick up NBC or PBS from the next city, but digital gives me three times as many channels as I had with analog, so no great loss.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08 2017, @02:18AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 08 2017, @02:18AM (#450915)

          Good for you, but multiple relatives i know in different states had to get satellite because they don't get any stations in watchable condition anymore. The ones that can be tuned in are a mess of decoding artifacts, frozen picture and cutting in and out. Maybe its because my family lives in rural areas, but at least analog TV worked. Additionally, many blind people I know instantly had their TV audio receivers become useless with no inexpensive alternative (short of buying a television, the cheapest of which are 8x the price and programmed visually).

      • (Score: 1) by toddestan on Saturday January 07 2017, @09:54PM

        by toddestan (4982) on Saturday January 07 2017, @09:54PM (#450849)

        I assume that's the big push. FM sits on a prime area of the spectrum, and the governments likely stand to make a fair amount of money auctioning it off most of it (minus the small subset left for the digital radio channels).

  • (Score: 1, Troll) by Bethany.Saint on Saturday January 07 2017, @11:14AM

    by Bethany.Saint (5900) on Saturday January 07 2017, @11:14AM (#450692)

    >> Should there be a push to switch off FM radio in order to 'persuade' users to upgrade their receiving equipment?

    Yes, of course there should switch off Analog FM. The Liberal Govt. forcing this sort of change is the only way to move the nation forward at a reasonable pace. Otherwise Alt-Right Luddite Asshats, Blue Hairs afraid of change, and a Republican Government on the take will hold us back for another 50 years.

    • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Saturday January 07 2017, @12:33PM

      by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 07 2017, @12:33PM (#450707) Journal

      As of now, there seem to be no adequate DAB replacements for several of my FM radios.

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.