The central function of the pilot projects was the testing of the transmission and reception technology, a test environment for the development of receivers, an incentive for the development of new equipment and new program offerings as well as the exploration of the public interest in the new technology.
The transmission and reception technology was the subject of all pilot projects. In particular, the pilot project has shown here that the L-band is unsuitable and too expensive for a comprehensive coverage. Planned instead is the distribution in channel 12 in frequency band III, which is very well suited for mobile reception.
Attempts to feed DAB into cable networks were made in 1997, which did not interfere with DAB signals and TV channels. In the cable network of Eisenach 1998 the feed in the “Hyperbandflanke” was tested;
The results are apparently not published yet.
The irradiation in tunnels by repeaters or by emitter cables was also successfully tested.
In cooperation between Bosch and Deutsche Bahn, the transmission of motion pictures via the DAB system was also tested as an extended application. The example of the n-tv program has shown that a mobile reception of television signals in this way is possible.
In the case of the receiving devices, car radios were first developed, even those with a display, so that information can be presented visually alongside or instead of the sound. Meanwhile, there are also HiFi home receiver and PC plug-in cards. Suppliers are Bang & Olufsen, Bosch / Blaupunkt, Clarion, Grundig, JVC, Kenwood, Panasonic, Pioneer, Sharp, Sony, Technics and TechnoTrend, who are at least as involved in the DAB market as they have presented prototypes.
By contrast, it is still problematic with portable battery-powered receivers, since the chip generation available today still has too high a power requirement. However, a first prototype in the form of a portable “DAB mobile phone” was presented in 1998 by Bosch.
Accompanying research on public acceptance of digital radio was carried out to varying degrees on the pilot projects. Extensive acceptance studies were carried out in particular on the pilot projects in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia. Their most important results will be summarized in the following.
A major advantage of the DAB over other forms of digital sound transmission has been seen in the mobile reception pilot projects. Especially here terrestrial transmission can not easily be replaced by satellite reception. On the other hand, it is most plausible in mobile use that it may still make sense in the future to provide a digital data transmission in the radio, which is not limited to audio data, but is primarily oriented.
Against this background, representative surveys were conducted in each of the three federal states, particularly on the use of the car radio. Decisive for the assessment of the car radio are then trouble-free reception and ease of use. Two other aspects also met by DAB are also important to the majority of respondents: no change of frequency while driving and CD quality sound.
One of the possibilities that can be offered with DAB is the transfer of information to a display.
Corresponding requests, which were made before the start in at least two experimental areas by more than half of the respondents, were the current traffic information, news, local news, weather information, parking instructions and environmental information. Great interest was also communicated for event announcements, indication of music titles or interpreters, shopping tips and driving and flight schedules.
For a receiver without a screen on average, a purchase price of about 800 DM was considered
acceptable, for a device with screen about 1,100 DM. However, the price expectations were here, at an average of 600 DM, well below those for car radios. For PC plug-in cards a buyer potential of 460,000 persons was determined. Here were the price expectations with about 340 DM but again significantly lower than Heimemp-catchers.
Also striking in the preliminary studies were the demographic features of those who showed an interest in digital radio. They are mostly men, from 30 years old, formally better educated and better earners, who have in the household on a particularly good equipment with electrical equipment.
The same was also said for the participants in the pilot projects. Particularly striking is the composition of the test panel in North Rhine-Westphalia, which consisted of 96 percent men – probably also because usually the men are the preferred users of the car and the decision makers on the car equipment. Further differences between the participants in the pilot project in North Rhine-Westphalia and the population average can be found in the following table.