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AIR to turn digital for world audience

business Updated: May 27, 2007 23:16 IST
Highlight Story

Radio

Listening to old melodies of KL Sehgal or latest tunes from Himmesh Reshammiya would now be possible in far west United States or on the interior of Indo-China border. In a quality better than FM radio.



It will all happen with All India Radio (AIR) planning to go digital. “We have started a pilot project to provide digital signals to radio audience in the country. The quality would be as clear as playing music at your home,” said Brajeshwar Singh, Director-General AIR.



The digital service will be available through internet via webcasting and as radio signal till a distance of 20,000 kilometres in a crystal clear sound. But the biggest stumbling block for the masses to listen to fine quality radio transmission is the high cost digital radio sets. Each set costs about Rs 12,000. But, Singh expects the price to go down once the use of radio digital signal improves.



Till, the technology becomes popular the AIR will provide the signal in both analog and digital mode. This will mean that there will be a signal for conventional radio sets along with one for digital radio sets. Once the transition from analog to digital is complete, the analog signal will not be available. “It will take seven to eight years,” Singh said.



AIR on Thursday conducted a presentation for Information and Broadcasting ministry secretary A Swarup on digital phase of AIR. The pilot project started from a transmission station near Delhi University is first of its kind in the country.



“Although 38 countries in the world has used digital mode for external transmission, India would be the first country to use the technology for national transmission,” AS Guin, Engineer-in-Chief of AIR.



The cost of converting entire AIR network on digital is high but the government expects to get approval of Planning Commission for this futuristic project soon. Under the pilot project, Delhi radio station is available on digital mode as well as analog mode. “We have divided the bandwith into two channels. One part is digital and other is analog. People who want to listen to better quality sound can opt for the digital signal” an AIR official said.