Next RDS Forum meeting on 21 & 22 October at Geneva

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In 2010 the Radio World magazine asked three RDS Forum members, who had a long-time experience in working with the EBU, about what was their view on the future of FM/RDS radio.

Here you can download a PDF (2.9 MB) of their article published in the April 2010 issue of Radio World.

What is a bit of a surprise and what may contradict those that state that FM/RDS radio has reached a state of maturity that cannot be developed further and therefore the only solution for the future is the transition to digital radio. One of the advantages of digital radio, when compared to FM/RDS, is the significantly larger data transmission capacity, for example for the radio programme associated metadata.

In 2010, the RDS Forum started to debate about expanding RDS. The new option was called RDS2 and it has, now fully specified in IEC 62106 (all parts, 2018-2023) , because of the three additional RDS subcarriers, almost five times the data transmission capacity in comparison to conventional RDS and it can be used only with the ODA feature, and even with ODAs that were developed for legacy RDS like TMC, using the tunnelling option.

RDS2 is compatible with existing FM/RDS receivers. However, to use the innovation, new receivers will need an RDS2 decoder for the additional data streams. The technology mostly used now for FM radio and RDS decoding is called DSP (Digital Signal Processing) and it has led to very low cost and mass produced FM/RDS receiver chips since two decades already. With this same technology it is possible to easily decode also four RDS subcarriers at once instead of only one, still maintaining the low cost of the IC, as established now, on a similar market price level. It is also assumed that not all future FM/RDS radios will really need RDS2. Only the receivers that will offer the new enhanced services will need RDS2.