DAB Radio Coverage in Europe

Europe comprises 51 independent states, the largest being Russia with 37% of the land area and the smallest being Vatican City in the centre of Rome. Five of these states are partly in Europe and partly in Asia while Armenia and Cyprus are geographically in Asia but considered European.

By the end of 2017, 2,100 DAB services were being broadcast across 38 countries with a potential audience of 420 million. Twenty countries in Europe have regular DAB services while a further nine are conducting trials and five are showing some interest.

Regular Services

  • Austria currently has fifteen DAB+ services and coverage of 29% for the population of 8.7 million, with 0.5 million receivers sold so far. Fixed DAB+ services started in 2008 after a trial and the aim is to launch a nationwide multiplex in 2019. The technical network is due to start construction in spring 2019 in Vienna, other cities following in 2020.
  • Belgium has a 95% coverage of its 11 million population with a mix of DAB and DAB+ services and 400,000 receivers sold. French speaking Belgium (Wallonia and Brussels) has a strategy for migrating from analogue to digital radio while the Flemish speaking areas (Flanders and Brussels) have had a multiplex on air since 1997 and multiplexes cover the country’s main road networks.
  • Czech Republic has 29 DAB+ stations covering 62% of the country’s 10.5 million population. There’s one regular multiplex in Prague and three others covering other areas with plans to add further transmitters.
  • Denmark has the highest ratio of DAB take-up in the world, amounting to 46% of the population and has plans to end FM broadcasting by 2021. The 5.6 million population has 98% coverage through a mixture of DAB and DAB+ services and almost two million devices have been sold.
  • France has plans to accelerate deployment of DAB+, with calls for broadcasters to cover fifteen zones with over 175,000 inhabitants each as well as national frequencies. Coverage is currently 19% of the 63 million population through 166 DAB+ services and 1.5 million devices sold. Read more about listening to DAB radio in France here.
  • Germany has 97% coverage of its 81.6 population through 150 DAB+ services and almost ten million devices sold. Marketing efforts are underway to increase the current 18% penetration and 39% of new cars have DAB
  • Gibraltar has four DAB+ services covering 90% of the 30,000 population, with 70% penetration. Analogue TV has already been switched off although there are no plans to switch off FM radio.
  • Ireland has 51% coverage for the 4.6 million population, principally in the main cities. There are ten DAB services and 400,000 devices, amounting to 17% penetration, and plans to adopt the DAB+ standard. Read more about listening to DAB radio in Ireland here.
  • Italy legally requires all radios sold from 2020 to have digital capability. There are currently 136 DAB+ services providing coverage to 83% of the 60.6 million population, although only 3% penetration with 3.2 million devices sold.
  • Malta was the first European country with a DAB+ network and has 53 services covering 100% of the 452,500 population. Sales of 106,000 devices have achieved 25% penetration.
  • Monaco is another small country with an extensive DAB coverage — 100% of its 37,600 population through eighteen DAB+ services.
  • Netherlands has reportedly the most successful DAB+ service in Europe, with 95% coverage of its 17 million population through 112 DAB+ services and 875,000 devices sold. Around 90% of people listen to the radio every week
  • Norway was the first country to switch off national FM, in 2017, and has 99.7% coverage of its 51.1 million population through two DAB and 213 DAB+ services. Around 5.6 million devices have been sold and an 83% penetration achieved.
  • Poland has exhausted its FM frequencies and so is considering switching exclusively to DAB+. It currently has 56% coverage of its 38.5 million population, mainly centred on cities, through 28 DAB+ services.
  • Slovenia has decided to switch the main channel of radio stations to digital on 22/2/22. There is 73% coverage of the 2.1 million population through sixteen DAB+ services.
  • Spain began digital broadcasting in 1998 to Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, and achieved 52% coverage of its 46.4 million population through eighteen DAB and one DAB+ service. It has since reduced coverage to 20% to enable a migration from DAB to DAB+. Read more about listening to DAB radio in Spain here.
  • Sweden has 35% coverage of the 9.1 million population after starting digital broadcasting in 1995. It has ten DAB and sixteen DAB+ services but a decision to switch from FM to DAB+ has been deferred on the grounds of costs to individuals.
  • Switzerland plans to phase out FM radio from 2020 in favour of DAB+ due to 99.5% coverage of the 8.1 million population through fifteen DAB and 121 DAB+ services and almost 3.5 million devices sold. Most stations currently have DAB+ in parallel with FM.
  • United Kingdom has 487 DAB and eight DAB+ services providing 97.3% coverage and 62% penetration for the 64.1 population, with over 35 million devices sold. The government plans to switch over to digital once digital listening reaches the same hours as analogue and DAB coverage equals that for FM.
  • Vatican City has a population of only 451 but seven DAB+ services from one multiplex.

Other European Developments

Trials are currently taking place in:

  • Bulgaria where there is 24% coverage of the 7.2 million population.
  • Croatia where sixteen DAB+ services are undertaking trials for a 50% coverage of the 4.3 million population.
  • Estonia, which has no current DAB services although test broadcasts have occurred.
  • Greece has allocated frequencies for national transmissions with seven DAB+ services for the 10.8 million population
  • Hungary has 30% coverage of the 9.9 million population through seven DAB+ services broadcast from Budapest.
  • Romania currently has a trial broadcast of six DAB services from Bucharest that covers 10.4% of the 20 million population.
  • Slovakia started a DAB+ trial in Bratislava in 2015 and now has 57 DAB+ services across six trials covering 36.8% of the 5.4 million population.
  • Turkey launched DAB+ test transmissions in four cities in 2017 and now has eight DAB+ services providing 20% coverage for the 78.7 million population.
  • Ukraine has announced thirteen radio stations are to broadcast digitally although currently only nine DAB+ services are provided for 7.07% of the 42.4 million population.

Interest in digital has been announced in Armenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Serbia although there are currently no further developments.

For more information and news, see WorldDAB.org, the website of WorldDAB, the global industry forum for digital radio.

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