DAB in Ireland
Digital Audio Broadcasting in Ireland is one form of digital radio transmission in the state. It was launched to the public on 30 November 2006, with trials taking place in 1998, 2001 and 2006. Currently, 56% of Ireland's population - mainly in Counties Cork, Limerick and the North East - can receive permanent DAB services. Geographic coverage on a portable or car radio is much less. In contrast, all the RTE stations on the DAB multiplex are also available nationwide via Saorsat and about 99% geographic coverage is possible via DVB. Generic DVB receivers generally need mains, but are typically cheaper than DAB radios. Many portable DAB radio sets have 1/10th to 1/50th of the running time of an AM/FM set, typically giving only 6 hours use. There are also in-dash DVB Terrestrial receivers for cars, though it is illegal for the driver to watch the TV channels. The Digital Radio services all suffer from the low 128 k maximum bit rate. Some channels are lower.
One permanent multiplex exists, operated by the national broadcaster RTÉ. The service began to be marketed in May 2007 by a collective of commercial broadcasters, digitalradio.ie; and receivers are now sold by most major electronics retailers.
It is proposed to close the RTE DAB service as well as the Digital only RTE radio channels as part of the November 2019 cost saving plan. This proposed closure was set to take place in April 2020 but has reportedly been postponed.
A small scale DAB trial was launched last August 2018 in Cork City, Ireland on channel 11A (216.928 MHz). Operated by Viamux Ltd (éirdab).
A temporary licensed trial multiplex began transmission using block 9B in April 2010. It was operated by Total Broadcast Consultants Ltd. Initially it covered the Waterford City area and from mid May, expanded to cover much of the South East of Ireland. The trial is no longer operational. A private MUX is also available in the Cork city area on Channel 5A, containing many of the independent stations from Dublin and Cork.
DAB Ireland Mux1 (RTE)
This multiplex operates on Block 12C (227.360 MHz) from just five transmitters: Three Rock Co. Dublin, Kippure Co. Wicklow, Clermont Carn Co. Louth, Spur Hill Cork, and Woodcock Hill Limerick. Hence the service is only available in parts of Ireland. Its line-up has varied heavily since its launch - initially on 1 January 2006. All stations are provided by RTÉ. It is currently carrying the following stations:
- RTÉ Radio 1, 128 kbit/s Stereo
- RTÉ Radio 1 Extra, 64 kbit/s Mono (part-time service, uses bandwidth from Chill)
- RTÉ 2fm, 128 kbit/s Stereo
- RTÉ lyric fm, 160 kbit/s Stereo
- RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, 112 kbit/s Stereo
- RTÉ Gold, 128 kbit/s Stereo
- RTÉ 2XM, 128 kbit/s Stereo
- RTÉ Junior, 128 kbit/s Stereo (07:00-21:00, timeshares a slot with RTÉ Chill). Drops to 96kbit/s Mono when required
- RTÉ Chill, 128 kbit/s Stereo (21:00-07:00, timeshares a slot with RTÉ Junior). Drops to 96kbit/s Mono when required
- RTÉ Pulse, 128 kbit/s Stereo.
It is proposed that this multiplex cease operation in April 2020.
DAB Ireland Mux2 (2007-08)
No longer operating since November 2008, this multiplex launched in mid-March 2007 and operated from Three Rock Mountain and Clermont Carn on Block 12A (223.936 MHz). It carried ten services - four stations supplied by Communicorp, two by Digital Audio Productions, two by UTV Radio, and two privately held. As of July 2008, it consisted of:
- All 80s, 128kbit/s Stereo
- Dublin's 98FM, 128 kbit/s Stereo
- FM104, 128 kbit/s Stereo
- Mocha, 128kbit/s Stereo
- Newstalk, 64 kbit/s Mono
- TXFM, 128 kbit/s Stereo
- Q102, 128 kbit/s Stereo
- Radio Kerry, 96 kbit/s Mono
- Today FM, 128 kbit/s Stereo
- SPIN 1038, 128 kbit/s Stereo
- Raidió Rí-Rá
Radio stations licensed by the broadcasting commission of Ireland ceased broadcasting on Ireland's second digital radio multiplex (Mux 2) on Sunday, 30 November 2008. The stations were broadcasting on Mux 2 as part of a digital radio trial. RTÉ continues to broadcast on the RTÉ multiplex. ComReg and the BCI are currently exploring regulatory frameworks for digital radio multiplex licensing and broadcast licenses.
Cork City 2018/19 DAB Trial (éirdab)
A small scale DAB trial launched in August 2018 in Cork City, Ireland on channel 11A (216.928 MHz). It is operated by Viamux Ltd (éirdab), a DAB/DAB+ digital radio solutions company. éirdab has a 1-year test and trial licence from Comreg to perform tests from a site in Cork City. éirdab has invited all local and regional radio stations to join the multiplex. It will also carry stations previously unavailable to listeners in the area. Stations include:
- Radio Maria, 128kbit/s Stereo
- United Christian Broadcasters, 128kbit/s Stereo
- Juice Cork, 192kbit/s Stereo
Ireland FreeDAB Network (FreeDAB)
The FreeDAB  service launched on 22 March 2019 by a well known Cork pirate radio operator on blocks 5A (Dublin and Cork) 5B (North East) and 7D (Sligo). FreeDAB is an service specifically setup to give more variety to the end user and in turn encourage the transition to the DAB platform. FreeDAB will continue to implement new services across Ireland by March 2020.
Their multiplexes currently serve Dublin, Cork, Sligo, Waterford and Donegal town.
South-East (TOTAL-DAB) DAB trials (2010-12)
DAB and DAB+ trials were begun in April 2010 in the South-East area of Ireland on channel 9B (204.64 MHz) by Total Broadcast Consultants Ltd, a broadcast engineering company. The company initially obtained a 1-year test and trial license from Comreg to perform tests from sites in Waterford City and a high site in the Blackstairs Mountains, providing coverage in Co. Wexford, Co. Carlow, Co. Kilkenny and East Co. Waterford. In March 2011, a 1-year extension was granted. This was the first DAB multiplex in Ireland to be operated by an independent/private organisation (RTÉ NL operating previous multiplexes), and the first known broadcasts of DAB+ content in Ireland. In addition to all local and regional radio stations, it was carrying several stations previously unavailable in the region. Past trial participants have included Christmas FM, Zenith Classic Rock & Raidió Rí-Rá.
- 4fm, 160kbit/s Stereo
- Beat 102 103, 192kbit/s Stereo
- Sunshine, 128kbit/s Stereo
- KCLR 96FM, 48kbit/s DAB+ Stereo
- Phantom FM, 128kbit/s Stereo
- Radio Nova, 192kbit/s Stereo
- RTÉ 2XM, 72kbit/s DAB+ Stereo
- South East Radio, 88kbit/s DAB+ Stereo
- talkSPORT, 56kbit/s Mono
- Tipp FM, 56kbit/s DAB+ Stereo
- UCB Ireland, 32kbit/s AAC+
- WLR FM, 64kbit/s AAC+ Stereo
Dublin 2018 trial
A test service in Dublin served parts of the city on Channels 5A and 5B carrying both RTE and Independent local radio services.
- "RTÉ trials DAB digital radio in Cork and Limerick cities". Radio Netherlands MediaNetwork. 2008-03-19. Archived from the original on 2008-04-23. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
- DAB Ensembles Worldwide | Ireland
- "Notice on www.digitalradio.ie". Retrieved 2009-03-08.