Uganda Launches Pilot Project for Digital Audio Broadcasting

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The Uganda Communications Commission has launched a one-year pilot project to enroll FM radio stations in a digital audio broadcasting modulation system (DAB+).

Currently, radio stations in Uganda are using the analogue FM modulation broadcasting system to offer services.

Irene Sawankambo, the Commission’s Executive Director, said that the new system will help reduce the cost of operation for FM radio stations, create more jobs, and enable the spectrum to accommodate more radios.

“With clear signals, now, when you compare FM and Digital Audio Broadcasting, very similar to how we have Digital Terrestrial Television. Digital Audio Broadcasting allows more channels to be provided in the same range of frequencies. So the limitation we are having right now with FM radio would be accommodated in the Digital Audio Broadcasting,” Sewankambo said.

Sewankambo said that the network will expand and allow more people to come into the space of broadcasting. So UCC is going to continue bringing digital audio broadcasting on board and the technology has given UCC the opportunity to use DAB, satellite, and the internet all for radio.

Paul Odoi, the representative for the board chair, added that the launch has marked an exciting milestone in embracing the future of broadcasting, with the endeavour representing a leap forward in the way broadcasters connect with the audience.

He said that the project, which focuses primarily on densely populated areas like Kampala, operates on Spectrum Band III (174–240 MHz), specifically reserved for such services.

“In an era where information flows so fast, it is imperative that we adopt and innovate. DAB is key to UCC’s commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancement,” Odol stated.

Odoi stated that the launch has helped to gather valuable user feedback, UCC providing free DAB+ receivers, with plans to import more and work with broadcasters to acquire additional units. In addition, some newer vehicle models come equipped with DAB+ receiver.

This technological advancement is in accordance with the Uganda Communication Act 2013 and international agreements such as the ITU’s Geneva 2006 Agreement (GE06). The pilot project will cover Greater Kampala, with a coverage radius of approximately 80km from Summit View Hill, Kololo, and Kampala. This phase is a pilot to test the technology’s feasibility and effectiveness.

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