Norway to End Use of FM Radio by January 2017
Despite your allegiance to the warm sounds of FM radio, Norway seems to think the format is perhaps best left in the past: The European country will be the first to phase out FM radio entirely in favor of Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), a format described by NBC as “free, over-the-air digital service that requires only a special receiver attachment on the listener’s end.”
"This is an important day for everyone who loves radio," said Thor Gjermund Eriksen, head of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. "The minister’s decision allows us to concentrate our resources even more upon what is most important, namely to create high quality and diverse radio-content to our listeners."
Norway was the first country to get on board with DAB, becoming the first nation to use the technology back in 1995. The primary reasons for the switch are improved audio quality and greater channel availability: Norway currently maintains only five FM radio channels, but 22 DAB channels, according to Radio.no.
The phase-out of FM will begin in January 2017, which should give Norwegians ample time to make technological upgrades. Right now, only around 20 percent of vehicles in Norway are equipped for DAB radio, and 50 percent of Norwegian homes listen to digital radio, DAB or otherwise. A Gallup poll estimates that 7.9 million radios will need to be updated or recycled.
FM radio was patented in 1933, but 90 percent of Americans still use the aging format at least weekly, according to a 2012 Pew study. If that figure is similar among Norwegians, then this DAB upgrade seems long overdue.