Norway is the first country in the world with a decission to close down FM. This will happen in 2017. One of the main suppliers of DAB-radios in Norway is SAHAGA AS. We are a 10 person-company doing imports and distribution of consumer electronics in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. We were established in the year 2013, our company history goes back to 2014, and our work is all about the love for radio. Especially the scottish brand REVO, the german brand HAMA and off course our own brand POP:
Sahaga as is owned by Hans Christian Andersen. Everything in his life is about radio and it has been since he was 11 years old. Broadcasting pirate local radio from the basment of his best friends fathers house, he found out quite early that radio was the future for him. Local radio, commercial radio, national radio and finally becoming a part of the marketing and information of digital radio in Norway. In 1999 he broadcasted live NRK-shows from the display window of H&M in Oslo, interviewing colleagues from NRK and sales personel of Pioneer Car Audio.
The coverage of DAB was marginal and the head unit with DAB from Pioneer was sold at around 3000 EUROS. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to understand that sales figures were low. On top of that, no unique content was broadcasted on DAB.
Any way; 5 years later HC found himself believing strongly in the future of digital radio. He was convinced by the sound quality and the extra services of DAB. He also had the pleasure of getting to know most of the persons working with DAB from the inside of NRK, P4 and Norkring. When he decided to quit his day time job, he had to invest his earnings in stock of DAB radios. He wanted it to be DAB for CARs and he flew over to Scotland to try to buy a sample of the REVO in CAR dab-adaptor.
HC met with David Baxter of REVO in Lanark and he told him he wanted a digital radio for his car. Mr Baxter replied: ”If you buy 5 of these, I will give you exclusive rights for distribution in the nordics.” It was a nice beginning of the business in 2004.
Today the business is devided into three:
SAHAGA – scandinavian distribution of radios of the mentioned brands.
Radiobutikken.no – webshop with almost all available digital radio brands on sale
Digitus Nordic – a company distributing MediaDAB. A solution for cars, fully integrated and controlled by Steering Wheel Command. A wonderful, Italian product, suitable for most cars. It requires professional installation and the result is quite perfect for most car brands.
And then, finally, we are touching todays subject. ”Experiences and messages from Norway regarding DAB in cars”.
NORWAY is the first country in the world to switch off FM. This will happen in 2017. The authorities required 50% daily listening to a digital platform, valuable content, good coverage and products suitable for both home and car in the market. A lot of good people from broadcasters, signal providers and political organisations worked hard and achieved great results.
As of today, this is the situation in our adorable mountain-country up north:
We are 5 million inhabitants in Norway.
57% of them are listening to radio through a digital source
58% of all households have a DAB radio and use it regularily
23% of the radio listening in Norway is taking place in the car (I honestly thought this was i higher percentage…)
And finally, we are very proud of the DAB/DAB+ coverage in Norway. 99,5% of the population can turn on their DAB-radio and receive crystal clear audio. Which is a higher percentage than what we can offer on FM.
Then, specifically about CARS:
60% of new cars sold have DAB+
70% of car models available can offer DAB+.
(20 out of the 20 most popular brands and makes can offer DAB+)
5 million Norwegian have in total 2,5 million private cars on the road
Only 500.000 of them have a DAB+ receiver in their car
This means approxemately 2 million cars, already on the road, will need a DAB+ radio installed.
We also must remember the 500.000 cars used professionally, like trucks, buses, taxis, and even police cars and ambulances.
There is a huge job to be done, in other words, and INCAR solutions for retrofit dab+ is a very important issue in Norway, and a great business-possibility in any country switching from FM to DAB. From January, through to December 2017 all Norwegians will need a DAB+ radio to be able to listen to the radio.
key point #1 is about the CAR INDUSTRY
Sahaga thinks what we have witnessed in Norway is a car industry sitting on their hands, doing nothing to meet the demand for DAB+ for several years. Not neccessarily today, but in earlier days. So, to avoid this becoming a hard nut to crack in your country, please open your eyes today. Deman for DAB+ will come. Why not look for solutions in the market now?
What the Norwegian car industry seemed to forget was that their customers want to shop their car from the brand with the solutions. This is actually a matter of image. Would you like your image to be: ”We are the carbrand with all the solutions” or would you like it to be ”We are the car brand who does not have solutions”?
The absence of dab solutions will be seen as a limitation, and it will devaluate your image.
Please also remember to teach your sales personal to include DAB+ as a natural part of the sales process. It is easy to sell two sets of tyres, or even a ski box on the roof. It should be just as easy to sell a dab-radio.
And if you DON´T, you may get into trouble in the future. This lady works for The Norwegian Consumer Counsil and she has now concluded that everybody who bought a new car in Norway up until 5 years before the FM switch off are probably entiteled to a free upgrade or a deduction of the price they paid, because the radio is supposed to work for more than 5 years. (I know that the Norwegian regulations regarding warranty and so on is very strict, so it would probably not be 5 years in your country, but maybe 3, 2 or 1 year.)
Anyway, not having informed Norwegian car buyers about DAB+, will probably cost norwegian car dealers a lot in the future. Several of them now include some phrases about this in the contract when they sell the car, to avoid future expences. This clearly illustrates the importance of being prepared for digital radio in time before future shut off of FM.
As a distributor for MediaDAB, a fully integrated DAB ”black box” adaptor, Sahaga also would like to add a personal message to the CAR INDUSTRY.
If you do not already have your ”in house” solution for aftermarket DAB+, or an original brand solution to install, please let others into your cars. To integrate dab, access to CanBus or other protocols in the car will make the process of developing new solutions much easier. Do not close the door when nice engineers ask for cooperation. If they can make a unit that works with your car, they will provide a solution that will make your days easier in the future. Make an NDA, open up and work together.
My second key point is about the BROADCASTERS
My very best advice to you all is to LOOK TO NORWAY.
NRK and P4 invited all broadcasters to join them. I think they paid most of the party, but in the long run they will harvest from this.
If you do not include new content, and preferably exclusive DAB-only content, it is much harder to make consumers invest in a new radio.
By letting commercial stations, local stations, in other words competitors in, they raised the value of DAB, from the consumers point of view. They also introduced quite a few DAB-only stations themselves.
Also remember to encourage ”special themed” channels, like a weather channel, a traffic channel, a football channel etc. to broadcast on DAB only.
In Oslo there are 16 channels broadcasting on a local multiplex with great success. My company had POPradio on air for a year. Local stations are now broadcasting on DAB+ in more than 50% on Norway.
POP-up channels are also of a great value. The National Day-channel, the celebration of cities anniversaries, authors and composers, sports events… Yeah… anything really. Making a dynamic radiochannel pop up one day to be shut off the week after is something people are curious of. If the marketing is good, it will sell a lot of radios, and this is what you need to successfully be able to switch from FM to DAB.
Last, but probably most important right now; coverage. DAB-reception is crucial. If a person tries a DAB radio and gets no reception, it will take years to make him or her try it again. A DAB radio without reception is the worst thing, a DAB radio with reception is the best thing that can happen to your digitalization process.
And this is where CARs play the most important role, and reception longside the roads will decide if you will succeed or not.
Kitchen radios are mostly used inside or just outside the house. The house is mostly in the city. The cities have coverage. And the house does not move around.
With cars it is the opposite.
This is why coverage along the roads is extremely important. People travel by car. When media talks about the new radio standard, they talk about reception.
Here is from the Norwegian city of ARENDAL. The newspaper says: DAB is great, but not all ARENDAL can listen to it.
And what do they build this statement upon?
There is no reception in the tunnells of ARENDAL. Everywhere else, but not in a couple of tunnels. The article would be better if it said, GREAT DAB coverage in all ARENDAL, right? Moral of the story: Include tunnels from day 1.
Driving puts reception to the test. Coverage when driving is crucial for the success of DAB.
Please also remember that adaptors have limitations when it comes to reception, compared to the integrated solutions. The sensitivity is poorer, so if you want success you must over deliver, put even more power into the signal, to make sure that all in car solutions can receive. Consumers are used to signals everywhere, they will demand that for digital radio also. (I know the business model of cellphones are all different, but I am talking about how to make sure the consumers are satisified).
Norway now has a very good DAB network and even cheaper dab adaptors can now receive DAB signals along the roads, at least within the vicinity of the cities. We call those adaptors solutions for urban listeners only. It works ok.
Coverage off course also includes beaches, mountains, countrysides – everywhere people go. They will require coverage, in fact coverage will decide wether people think DAB is good or bad.
The final Key Point is about DEVELOPERS of DAB:
We turn the page and look at ANTENNA-solutions. Please come up with something sensational! No less. We need solutions that neutralizes all problems with the different kinds of filters in the car glass.
Glass mount antennas are good, because then you do not have to install ”another thing on the roof” of your nice car. But, be aware of everything put into the car glass that can stop the signal and avoid the receiver to receive the broadcast. My experience is that there are almost as many different challenges to car glass as there are car brands. And in Norway we have had a hard time finding solutions and spaces to put the antenna.
Sahaga also experience that DAB-reception falls out if the car is fitted with WiFi. Something to be aware of if customers complain about loss of reception, and maybe something that´s possible to avoid by using WiFi-filters, like we already have LTE-filters in some DAB-antennas? I am just asking….
The most common antenna for retro fit DAB is the glass mount antenna. Then, second is the induction through glass antenna which gives a better signal to the radio. The least wanted antenna for retro-fit is the ”make a hole in the car to install an extra antenna for DAB”-antenna. Norwegians rather drive without radio than paying someone to make a hole in their car-roof.
Sahaga also experience that there still is quite big differences in the quality of the DAB-chips in the market. Especially for use in the CAR, as the car moves and signal strength and quality will differ. A few dollars more is worth the money if it makes the product better. Buy the best DAB-chips for your radios.
We would love to see someone come up with a brand new and extraordinary intelligent solution for reception of the dab-signal. Easy to install and top quality reception. I know it is not easy – but I believe it is still possible!
Please also think about the design of the retrofit adapters. When people buy an expencive car, it is all about design. They do not want something ugly put inside it. But they want digital radio. The market is huge and the best design of in car DAB is still to come. Good luck!
Let´s look at the future together. Sahaga will look towards the Baltic states, the Middle East and India. Do not hesitate to contact us! These will be small steps for man, but huge leaps for our company. I am proud to be here as a Norwegian. Our entire population could fit into a medium sized city in Europe. When it comes to Digital Radio we really make a difference. That’s why we say like our new DJ hero in Norway. His name is Kygo and his current radioHIT is «We stole the show». Well, actually: We did!