When will DAB+ be accessible in Northern Ireland?

Radio stations broadcasting in DAB+ have been available in Northern Ireland since 2016.

Digital radio stations like Capital XTRA, Gold, Heart 80s, Radio X and Smooth are broadcast in DAB+ on the UK’s original network of DAB transmitters.

Northern Ireland only gained the UK’s national digital stations in 2013, over a decade after transmitters were switched on in England, Wales and Scotland. The initial six transmitters were located in Divis, Carnmoney Hill, Derry/Londonderry, Brougher Mountain, Strabane and Limavady. Coverage has been improved since then with new transmitters in South Newry and Armagh.

The UK’s second national multiplex, Sound Digital, has a single transmitter in Northern Ireland at Divis. This multiplex has eight DAB+ stations, including JACK Radio, Jazz FM and Virgin Anthems.

In total there are now 20 radio stations available nationally that are using DAB+.

If your radio doesn’t find these DAB+ stations when performing a scan it could be that there is not sufficient coverage in your area. You can enter your postcode on a coverage checker to see which stations you should be able to receive.

Not all digital radios are capable of receiving DAB+ stations. If your radio does find Absolute Radio and Planet Rock but does not find Heart 90s or Virgin Chilled this could indicate that the radio is not compatible with DAB+. There are still new radios on sale which don’t receive DAB+ stations. It is important to look for the digital radio tick mark when buying a new radio.

DAB transmissions in Northern Ireland

In addition to national networks of digital radio stations there are dozens of local or regional DAB transmitters. These cover areas like London, Manchester, Central Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The transmitters that carry Downtown Radio, Q Radio and U105 currently don’t broadcast any DAB+ stations. This is the case with many similar transmitters across the UK.

The BBC currently only broadcasts using DAB and not the newer DAB+.


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