What happens to the "Pips" when Radio goes Digital

  wee eddie 13:39 29 Jul 2009

As most of you know, I am not sold on this DAB thing. I think that we have chosen such a low "Bit Rate" that Radio will become the poor sister to TV.

Back to the "Pips"

DAB has a lag time of between 2 and 5 seconds depending on the Processing Speed of your Model. Therefor the "Pips" will no longer have any semblance of accuracy. (OK I know that Analogue Radio has a small lag but it is only measured in mille-seconds)

Will they be dropped altogether?

Will the BBC make an estimate of your Sets' Processing Period and broadcast the Pips 3 seconds, or so, early?

Will the BBC broadcast them on time and expect you to make the necessary adjustment?

Any other scenarios and opinions, please post?

  user8 14:26 29 Jul 2009

And the shipping forecast is only broadcasted on Radio 4 Long Wave.
What happens to that when the switch to DAB happens?

  tullie 14:57 29 Jul 2009

Dont know the answer,i havent listened to a station with pips for years,i have learned to live without them.

  Stuartli 15:04 29 Jul 2009

You mean you don't listen to BBC Radio 2?


  interzone55 16:23 29 Jul 2009

An interesting experiment is to have an FM radio, DAB radio, digital TV and PC in the same room.

Tune them all to Radio 2 or Radio 4 just before 7am then listen has the pips spin around the room.

I have a feeling that the pips will go if FM is ever dropped, as all DAB radios have an accurate time read out from the transmitter, my Roberts radio is totally spot on according to my alarm clock that is set by the national time clock jobby.

I really don't think FM will be turned off within our life time, as the change over will be much harder than with TV for many reasons, such as there's hundreds of millions of radios around the country, these cannot be converted with a simple freeview box.

DAB technology is in a state of flux, and it would be a very foolish government that chose to standardise on DAB when there's at least two much better competing systems being used in other countries.

As for the shipping forecast on Radio 4LW, is it really that important anymore? Or have I just committed treason by even thinking something like that...

  Forum Editor 19:07 29 Jul 2009

fairly easily as far as their end of things is concerned, because the DABS time lag is predictable and universal - the pips would arrive at each Dabs set on time.

The real problem is that not all DABS receivers process the signal at the same speed - some models take far longer than others, so the pips would be delayed at that end. You mentioned a delay of up to 5 seconds, but in fact some models take longer - 7 seconds in some cases. The BBC has technology that could even fix that problem in almost all cases, but there would still be some receivers that broadcast the pips too late for real accuracy. The fixed signal would still only be accurate to within two tenths of a second.

I don't know how many people need that kind of accuracy nowadays - there are other ways to check the time which are just as accurate. Nobody gets 100% accuracy on the analogue system anyway - the pips take around 100th of a second to get to your receiver, and you lose roughly another 100th of a second for every ten feet between the radio and your ear. That isn't going to make anyone very late for a meeting, so what's the problem?

  lofty29 19:43 29 Jul 2009

I Understood that the govenment announced a short time ago that analogue radio was going to be switched off in 2015, if so that will cost megabucks for people with car radios. One of the big problems which nobody allowed for with DVT was all the hassle it gave to elderly people, I have spent the last couple of weeks setting, and resetting sets for several people who live nearby, they just cannot cope with the new tv's and system.

  interzone55 20:07 29 Jul 2009

Nope, that's yet another case of the media half reading a report, then getting it all wrong.

Lord Carter's report on Digital Britain said that (by the end of 2015)
"On that date all services carried on the national and local DAB multiplexes will cease broadcasting on analogue. At the same time, a new tier of ultra local radio... will occupy the vacated FM spectrum. Radio services will either upgrade to DAB or if they are within the ultra-local tier, to FM. This will deliver an upgrade from FM to DAB and from MW to FM."

That does mean all analogue radio will be switched off by New Year's Eve 2015, as the 2015 date is only the prefered date, as he want's two years notice of the switch off date, and before the date can be announce a lot of criteria must be met. So if the following hasn't been managed by 31/12/2013 the whole lot gets put back.

50 per cent of listening is digital [not the same as DAB, note]
DAB is comparable to FM coverage, and local DAB reaches 90 per cent of all population, and all major roads.

So I think we're OK for some time yet...

  wee eddie 21:20 29 Jul 2009

"DAB is comparable to FM coverage, and local DAB reaches 90 per cent of all population, and all major roads."

While there is virtually no part of the UK that cannot receive an FM Radio signal, there are huge areas that are without DAB reception and apparently no plans to cover it. Apparently because it does not have a sufficient population density.

So ~ If you can't get Broadband, you won't be able to get Radio either!

  laurie53 21:39 29 Jul 2009

You of all people should know that there are large parts of the Highlands which don't get FM, and on some stretches of the A9 you're lucky to get a MW signal on AM either.

  Stuartli 22:32 29 Jul 2009

I would concur with the Scottish coverage observation, which can be very frustrating when it occurs.

FM radio from 2015, according to reports, will comprise small local commercial and community stations.

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