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Digital broadcasting


Digital broadcasting is the practice of using digital signals rather than analogue signals for broadcasting over radio frequency bands. Digital television broadcasting (especially satellite television) is widespread. Digital audio broadcasting is being adopted more slowly for radio broadcasting where it is mainly used in Satellite radio.

Digital links, thanks to the use of data compression, generally have greater spectral efficiency than analog links. Content providers can provide more services or a higher-quality signal than was previously available.

It is estimated that the share of digital broadcasting increased from 7% of the total amount of broadcast information in 2000, to 25% in 2007. Some countries have completed a Digital television transition.

Digital broadcasting has been helped greatly by the presence of computers. In fact, with the invention of the integrated circuit in the 1960s and the microprocessor in the 1970s, digital broadcasting seems to have taken a footing in the global village that is broadcasting. However, most broadcasters are switching to digital broadcasting mostly because of a lack of frequency space.

In the UK, the FM broadcasting band is extremely limited. It is only possible to fit three BBC services comfortably: BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, and BBC Radio 3. In most areas BBC Radio 4 is also on FM, but for other locations Radio 4 uses AM and longwave because of the lack of space on FM. In fact, this is why BBC Radio Five Live exclusively uses AM. On the commercial radio front, only Classic FM can comfortably fit in FM: TalkSPORT and Virgin Radio use AM. In addition, local radio stations use a mixture of FM and AM. The same can also be said for British television, which exclusively uses the pan-European UHF television band after VHF television (PAL-A) was discontinued in the 1980s. Only BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, and Channel Four could comfortably fit. In addition, Channel Five could broadcast only in a few limited areas because of the strain of the TV band. There are also a few local television stations, but they are mostly low-power and are not affected, if any.

In addition, there are inherent problems with AM and FM. FM in particular is prone to multipath interference and the need to constantly retune the radio because of problems with the signal. AM, by contrast, doesn't suffer with multipath but when going under bridges or in tunnels, reception is absent. AM in particular (as well as LW and SW) is also prone to conditions on the Sun. RDS, known in the US as RBRS, has alleviated some of the problems with FM, but hasn't been fully implemented in AM.