Norway is First Nation to Kill Traditional FM Radio

Norway became the first country to switch off its FM signals today, in a move to replace traditional radio with digital audio broadcasting (DAB), the BBC reported. The Scandinavian country aims to use DAB exclusively by the end of 2017.

DAB may provide a higher quality and more cost-effective radio signal in Norway, which had poor FM signals partly due to its mountainous terrain. For that reason, nearly 70 percent of Norway’s population had already migrated to DAB before the switch today. 

While DAB technology may be cheaper in the long run, some Norwegians are concerned about the immediate cost of switching technology. The BBC reported that it costs the equivalent of $500 to upgrade car radios to DAB-capable units, and that those who cannot afford to switch won’t have a radio signal in their cars. 

“Norway is not prepared for this. There are millions of radios in homes, cottages and boats that won’t work anymore and only around 25% of cars in Norway have digital radios or adapters,” Svein Larsen of the Norwegian Local Radio Association told the BBC.

Nevertheless, the move to DAB is spreading. The United Kingdom, Switzerland and Germany are among other major nations considering going digital. In the United Kingdom, 30 percent of the population has DAB access. When that figure reaches 50 percent, lawmakers will begin the transition from FM, which was invented in the United States by electrical engineer Edwin Armstrong in 1933, to digital.