Radios users could soon browse and select radio stations on DAB and FM from a single list of stations.
Frontier Smart Technologies, a provider of chips and modules used in a range of digital radios, has launched the BestTune™ feature which combines the DAB/DAB+ and FM modes by presenting a single list. The feature also removes duplicate stations and decides whether to play a digital or FM station based on which offers the best quality. Users will be able to change the selection manually if necessary.
The user interface is also being updated by Frontier to focus on the station and information about the programme or music. The radio mode, signal strength and RDS and ‘stereo discovered’ information will be moved to advanced menus.
In some parts of the country digital radios appear to list services more than once. These duplicate services, which may carry different announcements and commercials, will be combined into a single service. The station presented to the user will be the one with the strongest signal, which should be the local station. This would overcome tuning into a weaker version of a station when two are available in the list.
Although many of the UK’s radio stations broadcast digitally the majority of community radio stations are only available on FM. Some commercial radio stations, like Sun FM in Sunderland, are also not available on DAB digital radio.
Ford Ennals, CEO of Digital Radio UK, said “While the majority of radio listening is now digital there is still a significant amount of listening to local FM stations. So we welcome the introduction of Frontier BestTune™, an innovative Combined Station List solution for digital radios which will show local FM stations alongside the major national DAB/DAB+ stations and where stations on both platforms will defer to the strongest signal. This makes the digital radio easier to use and provides a better experience for listeners, which is something that all the major UK broadcasters support.”
Frontier Smart Technologies says the combined station list is expected to debut in radios during the second half of 2021.
Prem Rajalingham, Managing Director of Frontier, said “By focusing on the user, Frontier has designed and built a revolutionary feature that will change the way radio stations are selected. We look forward to working with the industry and getting the feature into consumers’ hands.”
A prototype of a hybrid car radio was demonstrated in 2018 which also included a single list of stations. The Radioplayer Reference Radio was able to play stations from FM, DAB and the Internet without first switching between modes or bands.