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France goes digital – soon! March 21, 2009

Posted by Richard Aucock in What randomly caught my eye today.
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I’ve got an in-car digital radio; it’s so awesome, I’d never be without it. This boy, he don’t need much.

Made by Pure, it works a bit like Griffin’s pioneering iPod transmitter – transmitting a low-power signal that the in-car stereo, tuned to the specified ‘blank’ station frequency, can pick up. All for £60.

It’s faultless, and means I can have BBC 6Music wherever I drive.

france-goes-digital-sooner-than-anyone-expected1I need this aftermarket add-on, though, because in-car DAB is still virgin territory. Despite being available for years now, few makers have picked it up. It’s still a rarity, even in the high-spec test cars we sometimes get in the Motoring Research office.

Things are about to change, though. In a surprise move, the French Government has made it law that all cars from 2013 must have standard DAB digital radios. Wow! That’s one way of imposing a digital switchover…

It’s certainly caught the industry on the hop. Standard on few, barely 20 percent of new cars offer DAB even as an option – and it usually costs £300 or more where it’s offered.

This means that standards are fragmented across Europe, too. Each country uses different digital bearers, which makes developing, for example, the successor to RDS TMC traffic reports – TPEG – hard.

France’s move is admirable, but the risk is that standards are rushed through that aren’t compliant with other countries. Could Britain risk missing out? It will be up to regulators over here to respond fast to France’s move, to ensure we’re not.

In the meantime, I’ll bear the faff of juggling mobile phone charger with DAB power socket in the 12v socket, if it means not missing George Lamb… yyyyyea!!