K-NET, 16 FM stations pilot Digital Audio Broadcast


    Some 16 FM stations in Accra and Kumasi, and Ghana’s leading broadcasting technology operator, K-NET are currently piloting the recently announced Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) system under the auspices of the National Communications Authority (NCA).

    The NCA announced the commencement of trials for DAB in Accra and Kumasi, following which it held a stakeholder engagement with the selected parties involved.

    The stakeholders included the selected 16 FM stations as well as KNET, the technical
    partners for the project.

    K-NET actually built the DAB platform. It is the same company that built and operates Ghana’s Digital Terrestrial Transmission (DTT) platform for digital TV broadcast, plus the K-NET Direct to Home  (DTH) platform, popularly known as MultiTV. Between the DTT and DTH platforms, K-NET currently hosts a total of 180 TV channels.

    DAB allows Ghanaians everywhere to be able to tune into any radio station in Ghana via a DAB channel, even if the station is located outside one’s region of residence.

    Currently, radio stations are only able to reach listeners within their regions of location and are not allowed to broadcast directly to audience outside of their regions, unless they pipe their feed through sister stations in other regions. But with DAB technology, listeners can actually access any channel directly without having to tune in to a sister station.

    At the stakeholder event, the Director-General of NCA, Joe Anokye catalogued the various innovations the NCA has undertaken since 2017, particularly referencing the re-farming of the FM Band in 2017 to create more room for the tall list of frequency requests the NCA has been receiving.

    Joe Anokye, Director-General, NCA

    He also touched on the formation of the Communication Monitoring Centre, the Network Monitoring System, Computer Emergency Response Team (NCA-CERT) and the opening of the expanded Broadcasting Monitoring Centre as evidence of the NCA’s desire to seek innovation that ultimately benefits the industry, consumers and investors in the telecommunications and broadcasting space.

    Mr. Anokye expressed his delight about the commencement the DAB trials, saying “My
    excitement, is not simply that we will be the first country within the ECOWAS sub-region to embrace DAB, but also, it clearly indicates that the NCA, being mindful of technological advancement within the broadcasting space, the limited spectrum at its disposal and the increasing interest in broadcasting, believes that latching onto DAB will be useful for us in Ghana”.

    He added that with the FM band of most cities in Ghana congested, the large number of outstanding FM Radio applications and large numbers of new applications received every week, the introduction of DAB is opportune for the industry.

    Joe Anokye further stated that, amidst the digital landscape, various positive developments are taking place, primarily concerning spectrum management and the government’s digital
    transformation agenda.

    Recognizing that spectrum is finite and analogue options have been exhausted, the transition to digital platforms presents numerous opportunities.

    “In light of this, the NCA invested in researching how to ensure spectrum efficiency, leading to the creation of the DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting). Currently, we are running the DAB for six months, granting stations cost-free access, which greatly contributes to advancing the digital transformation agenda. This exciting progress benefits all stakeholders, fostering new avenues for communication and content delivery”, he said.

    The acting Director of Engineering at the NCA, Rev. Ing. Edmund Yirenkyi Fianko educated the stakeholders on the various technical aspects of the service. He emphasized that DAB has many benefits for broadcasters as well as the public.

    He explained that with DAB+, the version Ghana will be trialing; it offers good quality audio that also supports multiple radio channels leading to spectrum efficiency. The platform also allows for value added services among others.

    Other benefits of DAB he touched on include the under listed:

    1. Overcoming Frequency Constraints: With severe constraints on FM radio frequencies in major Ghanaian cities, DAB offers a solution to expand coverage and cater for the growing demand for sound broadcasting services.

    2. Improved Reception Quality: DAB utilises digital signals, mitigating interference and
    delivering superior audio quality compared to traditional analogue FM radio.

    3. Efficient Spectrum Usage: DAB allows more stations to share the same frequency channel and transmitter thereby enhancing energy and frequency efficiency. In this trial, 18 existing FM stations in Accra and Kumasi will share the same frequency channel to deliver DAB services.

    4. Enhanced Interactive Services: In comparison to FM, DAB allows the transmission of metadata such as text and images for the following – service and programme information, emergency warnings, news, weather and traffic information.

    5. Ease of Selecting DAB stations to listen: Consumers are able to select DAB stations by
    searching for the names of the stations instead of memorising their frequencies.

    Speaking on behalf of the selected stations, Alhaji Dr. Abubakar Sidique of the University of Ghana’s Radio Univers said he was happy to see that advancement of technology with radio broadcasting in Ghana.

    He recounted the beginning of FM broadcasting in Ghana and the various challenges that were faced as the nation’s broadcasting industry started to grow.

    He was of the expectation that the trial will be successful to add value to Ghana’s FM broadcasting space.


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