Norway will become the first country to switch off its FM radio signal next week, leading the way in a global switchover to the digital audio broadcasting (DAB) standard.
The move is similar to the digital switchover from analogue television that was completed in the UK in 2012.
But while the UK’s TV switchover was relatively smooth, critics of Norway’s FM switch-off say the country isn’t ready for the change.
Ib Thomsen an MP with the Progress Party told Reuters. “There are two million cars on Norwegian roads that don't have DAB receivers, and millions of radios in Norwegian homes will stop working when the FM net is switched off. So there is definitely a safety concern."
A poll in the daily newspaper Dagbladet found that 66% of Norwegians opposed the switchover.
It will be a testing time for the radio industry. Experts worry that unless broadcasters have informed listeners fully, they may stop listening to radio altogether and opt to listen to CDs or streaming services like Spotify instead.
According to the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, the switch to DAB will save an estimated 200 million Norwegian Kroner (£19 million). The FM network costs eight times more than DAB to maintain, but DAB can carry eight times more stations.
The Norwegian switchover will take place over a 12-month period and will affect all national and city-based commercial local radio stations. Local and community radio will be able to broadcast on FM for five more years.
Britain, along with Denmark and Switzerland which are also considering the move from FM to DAB, will be watching closely what happens in Norway.
The UK was set to switch to DAB in 2015, but because so few people own DAB radios, the switchover was delayed indefinitely. One of the main problems is the lack of in-car DAB radios that exist. Around half of new cars are equipped with DAB radios, but many people drive older models which don’t have the technology.
At the moment, no date has been set for a UK switchover, but back in 2013, communications minister Ed Vaizey said it might not happen until after 2020.
What do you think of the move? Do you still use FM radio? Let us know in the Comments section.
Updated by Hannah Bouckley 6th Jan 2017