DAB knocked out by fiber cable cuts

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Just a week after Norwegian authorities proudly began forcing radio listeners over to DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting), they had to admit to major trouble Wednesday night that literally cut out DAB coverage all over the country. DAB radios were working again Thursday morning, but the disruption sent out warnings that the system is not as “robust” as officials claimed it was.

Only FM radios like this were working in Norway Wednesday night, after the country’s new and much-hyped DAB system was knocked off the air by fiber cable cuts. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

“We’d first of all like to apologize to all those who lost radio broadcasting last night,” Torbjørn Ø Teigen, director of state-owned radio and TV transmission firm Norkring, said on state broadcaster NRK’s national radio news Thursday morning. It could still be heard as usual on FM radios everywhere except Nordland County, which makes up the lengthy stretch of north-central Norway from Trøndelag up to Troms and was the first region to lose its FM coverage last week.

That meant that Nordland was completely without radio broadcasting from around 8pm Wednesday evening until nearly midnight, when the problems were corrected. They were blamed on cable cuts in Oslo and Oppland that affected coverage nationwide.

Teigen explained that the first of three cables that provide what he called “three parallel technical solutions” for DAB failed during the day on Wednesday. It’s located in Oslo but because of frozen ground, it couldn’t be immediately repaired.

Then two other cables that are critical to the two other “technical solutions” were literally cut during excavation work in Oppland County. They lie in the same underground ditch, and Teigen blamed that accident on “human error.”

That left all three cables out of order, silending DAB radios all over the country that only displayed “No Signal” messages. At least 235,000 households were affected including all those in Nordland County. Police in Nordland’s Salten region resorted to sending out a text message to the public via mobile phones around 10pm that “we are without DAB coverage” but that the errors had been “localized” and work was underway to correct them.

Teigen called the problems “extremely unfortunate” and suggested that “perhaps we need a fourth parallel solution.” He said Norkring, billed as Norway’s “top provider of terrestrial broadcasting services” (external link), would undertake a “thorough examination” of what went wrong in an effort to prevent it from happening again.

He insisted that DAB is still “more robust” than the FM network, but admitted that “we have to look now at the entire architecture (of the DAB system) and the possibility of laying out a fourth technical solution.” The counties of Trøndelag and Møre og Romsdal are scheduled to be the next to lose FM coverage, on Februay 8, with the entire FM network due to be shut down by mid-December. Several state politicians have tried unsuccessfully to postpone the controversially forced transition to DAB and FM shutdown, until officials were sure that it would function as expected.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund