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Digital Audio Broadcasting, or DAB, is a digital technology that is designed to broadcast radio stations to a wide audience.
Initial development of DAB technology began in the early 1980s in Germany and first DAB transmissions were made across the country in 1988. Key choices concerning the specifics of the technology to be used were made in 1990 and the complete protocol was finalized in 1993.
The United Kingdom was the first country to adopt DAB as a widespread radio broadcasting system. The first commercial DAB radio receivers went on sale during 1999 and by 2001 there were more than 50 DAB stations being broadcast across London. These first stations were either run by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) or individual commercial ventures.
In 2006, approximately 500 million people worldwide were within coverage of DAB radio broadcasts but sales of DAB receivers were still limited to a handful of European countries. Around 1000 DAB radio stations were in operation around the world at this time.
One of the main objectives of developing DAB radio was to improve the overall sound quality of transmissions by achieving higher fidelity and more resistance to noise and interference.
On many of the early DAB systems however, a better quality of sound can be achieved via the established FM (Frequency Modulation) radio stations due to the relative inefficiency of the audio codec used for DAB broadcasting.
Despite this failure to improve sound quality there are many other benefits inherent to the DBAB system. DAB radio stations are more bandwidth efficient than their analogue counterparts, so more stations can be made available and broadcasting costs are lower.
DAB radio transmitters also have the capability to automatically tune to a particular station chosen from a list, as well as receiving textual information about the broadcast, such as the title of the current song or traffic information for the station.
A newer version of DAB, termed DAB+, was made available in 2006 with the adoption of a new audio codec. This upgrade has the primary goal of achieving greater sound quality for DAB radio transmissions.