Today, we write radio history!

The FM band has existed in Norway for 63 years. On 11 January, 11.11 am, the first signals were shut down in Nordland, making Norway the first country in the world to move on from FM radio.

​The digitization of radio was ratified by the parliament in May, 2011. Simultaneously, the decision was taken to shut down the FM band within 2017. After the decision was made, Norwegian radio stations have expanded their offer with a range of new channels to increase the support for digital radio and have taken upon them new financial burdens with the hope that Norwegian policy makers would stand by their decision. The listeners have in their turn responded by buying digital radios on a large scale all over the country, thus getting ready to be the first country in the world to shut down its FM band.

– The radio experience isn’t really that different from when the technology first came to Norway in the 1920’s. We still want the same things from it: Good content and good coverage. Radio has been a loyal companion for many of us, a companion we bring with us when we want, where we want; to the cabin, in the car, in boats or at work, says CEO Torbjørn Teigen from Norkring.

Exceeding expectations
On 11 January from 11.11 am, the digitization entered a new phase as Nordland turned off their FM band on all national broadcasters. A celebration in Bodø marked this historic event. The national broadcaster NRK’s digital channels are obligated to have a digital coverage of 99,5% of the population, while the commercial channels have obligated themselves to have a coverage of 90%. National Communications Authorities says that NRK has coverage of 99,7% today, while the commercial channels stands at 92,8%, which means that they are already exceeding their obligations. The shutdown will continue throughout the country’s municipalities over the course of 2017. Local radio stations will still be able to use FM.

– The time has come to bring the radio experience into the future with the DAB network. This will enable us to develop the media and give our listeners a new version of our loyal companion in our everyday life, whether it’s news, sports, entertainment or music we want, Torbjørn continues.

Daunting challenges
Norkring’s role has mainly been to provide the infrastructure on behalf of NRK, Digitalradio Norge (DRN) and Bauer Media. They have built the DAB system according to the agreed time schedule and price. The Norwegian topography and climate has created daunting challenges for everyone involved, and the equipment and manpower provided by Norkring reflects this:

DAB in numbers (in relation to Norkring’s role):
1000 m2 storage
1200 trucks
1100 locations
970 transmitters
170 000 meters of cable
60 FTEs
1 billion kroner approx. in cost