FM Radio Carries the Baton

FM Radio Carries the Baton

Countries all over the world are migrating from analog to digital terrestrial broadcasting in view of advantages offered by digital systems. Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR) under Prasar Bharati are operating 67 DD Kendras and 218 radio stations, producing audio and audio-visual programs over several decades. India too has, in a phased manner, planned complete digitization of its DD and AIR networks by 2017.

The main trends in the Indian market include adoption of DRM, FM (DSP-based), and DVB-T2 standards and the digitization of analog radio and TV transmitters. The government has adopted DRM mode for MW radio transmitters and DVB-T2 mode for TV transmitters’ digitization. All new FM transmitters are in digital mode.


No orders were placed by DD in 2015-16 for high-power transmitters. Rohde and Schwarz, Gatesair, and NEC among other vendors waited in vain for the bids which were not invited.

In 2016-17, Doordarshan is expected to invite bids for supply, installation, and commissioning of 44 numbers of high-power digital TV transmitters. Notices inviting tenders (NITs) for three sets of 10 kW (1+1) DVB-T2 and T2 Lite ready analog TV transmitters, one each in Jammu region (Patnitop), Leh region (Himbotingla), and Uri region (Green Ridge) have been issued.

2015-16 saw the commissioning of 10 kW solid-state VHF/UHF analog TV transmitter systems at 15 locations; DVB-T2 transmitter systems for terrestrial HDTV service facilities at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata and DVB-T2 transmitter systems for terrestrial SDTV service facilities at 16 locations. The commissioning at three locations – Trivandrum, Hyderabad, and Srinagar – is still pending.


FM Broadcasting

2015 saw the much-awaited FM Phase-III expansion with the government allocating frequencies to the winners of the first batch. 97 channels in 54 cities became the winning channels.

Private FM channels, ready with their plans, commenced procurement of equipment for setting up the radio stations soon after the auction results. In 2015-16, orders were placed for 44 transmitters comprising 10 and 5 kW, with a handful of 3 kW, at an estimated value of Rs.20 crore.

FM transmitters are largely imported, major vendors being Broadcast Electronics and Gatesair from USA, Nautel from Canada, and DB Elettronica from Italy. BW Broadcast and RVR Elettronica also have some presence.

In 2015-16, Radio Mirchi, Radio City, Red FM, and My FM sourced transmitters from Broadcast Electronics (represented by Technomedia), DB Elettronica (represented by Falcon), and GatesAir (represented by Horizon Broadcast).

In 2016-17, orders are expected for 40 FM transmitters, with Big FM, Rajasthan Patrika, and remaining channels with licenses for 1-2 stations each, yet to place their respective orders.

Major Players

Broadcast Electronics. Broadcast Electronics has been a partner to broadcasters around the globe for more than 50 years as the premier manufacturer of RF and studio products for radio. Broadcast Electronics have supplied systems to independent FM broadcasters in India since the government opened up FM frequencies for private operation. Broadcast Electronics joined the DRM consortium in support of progressive DRM digital radio, especially in the FM band for the Indian market. It is represented by Technomedia in India.

DB Elettronica. DB Elettronica specializes in solid-state technologies for analog and digital FM radio and television. It offers its customers transmitters, antennas, turnkey solutions for radio and television studios, with training in factory or on-site, coverage study of installations, and pre/after sales support.

DB Elettronica is a leading player in FM digital and analog products. With 40 years of experience, the products offer the maximum AC efficiency of the units and the best quality of audio signal. The green RF technology is combined with new 65:1 devices, latest evolution of the world-famous patented COLD-FET technology applied on DB’s transmitters. It is represented in India by Falcon.

GatesAir. This company’s unrivalled legacy in over-the-air radio reaches new heights with the Flexiva transmitter family. Broadcasters also count on Flexiva as a single-platform solution for analog and digital broadcasting needs. Quad-mode operation ensures that broadcasters can leverage a common solution for FM, HD radio, FM+HD radio, and DRM+ digital radio. The industry’s most flexible range of fourth-generation digital exciters guarantee that broadcasters can operate a reliable, high-quality digital radio service from day one, or quickly upgrade to digital via simple software updates. Additionally, built-in real-time adaptive correction technologies ensure that broadcasters deliver exceptional coverage and maximize efficiency for FM and digital radio, while remaining in compliance with standards and regulations.

It is represented in India by Horizon Broadcast Electronics Pvt. Ltd.

BW Broadcast. The company’s transmitters have been getting stations on the air for over 15 years, and LPFM certified for 12 of those. That tried and tested platform is now being taken to a whole new level with their award-winning V2 FM transmitters. The company is represented in India by Setron India Pvt. Ltd.

Community Radio

In 2015-16, twelve transmission systems, with built-in audio processors were purchased by All India Radio for ten community radio stations. An order for eight transmitters was placed on Setron India Pvt. Ltd. and for four transmitters on Nomad India. These are 50 W transmitters, at an average unit price of Rs.200,000.


A tender for 10 numbers of 1 kW VHF FM solid-state MOSFET technology-based broadcast transmitter and associated equipment was invited by AIR in 2015-16.


All India Radio has a network of 145 MW transmitters with a total carrier power of about 13,000 kW. 98.4 percent of the 1.3 billion Indians receive the MW services of AIR.

Thirty five of these MW transmitters, of over 7000 kW carrier power, have been replaced with DRM transmitters. 31 of these transmitters are already carrying digital services. The remaining four transmitters are also expected to be commissioned into regular service very shortly.

Two of these transmitters are carrying pure digital services. The remaining transmitters are working in simulcast mode. The service or program, which each of these transmitters was carrying before the DRM replacement, continues in analog mode so that existing radio listeners, who have not yet acquired DRM receivers, are not deprived of their favorite service. In parallel, a popular film-based entertainment channel is being provided in digital mode from each of these transmitters. This entertainment channel was otherwise not available to most of the listeners in the coverage zone of these MW transmitters and not even from analog FM transmitters.

Services from 13 of these MW DRM transmitters are available also in the bordering countries to India. The carrier power of these 13 transmitters is 4320 kW.

Over 50 percent of the population in India and in a large areas of bordering countries will be able to enjoy popular AIR programs in digital mode on DRM receivers when the four DRM transmitters, which have not yet been commissioned, are also brought into regular service (very soon). AIR services on SW in digital mode in DRM are also available in U.K., Europe, East/South East/North East Asia, East Africa/Middle East, Mauritius, Australia, and New Zealand.

This progress will put India at the forefront of digital radio development in the world, concretely demonstrating the advantages of DRM for all listeners, whether in cities or rural areas.

George Kuruvilla

Chairman & Managing Director,


“Apart from providing advisory services to ministry of information and broadcasting in the area of private FM broadcasting, BECIL has set up common transmission infrastructure (CTI) in 87 cities for 41 private FM broadcasters and operationalized 266 FM channels under Phase-I and Phase-II licensing policy of the government. BECIL is setting up CTIs in various cities under FM Phase-III also for private FM broadcasters. Under batch-I of Phase-III, a total of 91 FM transmitters are being added at the CTIs established during previous phases at 52 locations throughout the country. Though the transmitters for these are being procured by respective private FM broadcasters, these are integrated in the existing CTIs by addition of required combiners/upgradation of RF feeder cables, antennas and likewise.”

Rich Redmond

Chief Product Officer,


The drive for higher efficiency in transmitter design has been in motion for several decades, but took an especially big leap 10 years ago with the introduction of highly efficient 50-Volt LDMOS technology. The integration of this technology into TV transmitters effectively reduced transmitter footprint, increased power density, streamlined parts and maintenance, and, perhaps most important, sharply reduced power consumption. That resultant drop in energy use has translated to both lower utility bills and an accelerated return on investment.{mosimage}

GatesAir has been on the leading edge of these efficient developments, being the first out of the gate to incorporate 50-Volt LDMOS technology in its PowerSmart transmitter architecture nearly 10 years ago. This past April, GatesAir unveiled PowerSmart Plus, which achieves its latest efficiency gains through newly available, next-generation LDMOS power amplifiers that further reduce power consumption and transmitter footprint. The design and architecture provide the benefits of broadband amplification (fewer spare parts, simplified maintenance and modulation adjustments) that can further lower overall total cost of ownership.

Similar to the efficiency gains advances in liquid-cooled technology via its ULXT transmitter range introduced in 2015, this year GatesAir unveiled the Maxiva UAXT-12 and UAXT-16, the newest members of its Maxiva UAXT high-efficiency, air-cooled UHF transmitter product family. The new transmitters extend the UAXT range to higher power levels not previously available in air-cooled transmitters. This gives UHF broadcasters the improved power efficiency and greater modularity of GatesAir’s advanced PowerSmart transmitter designs, including the third-generation PowerSmart Plus architecture along with the simplicity of air-cooled operation.

The UAXT models, with advanced PowerSmart designs, provide the convenience of air cooling at higher power levels. This offers a clear operational value proposition for broadcasters unable to support liquid-cooling architectures for high-power TV due to the remote location of, or limited real estate within the RF plant. With broadband amplification at the transmitter design core, broadcasters are assured of a smaller footprint for cleaner installation in space-challenged RF plants. As with all Maxiva transmitters, the new UAXT models offer unparalleled modularity to simplify field maintenance with hot-swappable power amplifiers and supplies, and minimize spare parts.

DVB-T2 broadcasters in Southeast Asia and other international regions further benefit from the more advanced IP connectivity, helping broadcasters more flexibly adapt to the significant IP transport capabilities built into the standard – providing broadcasters a wealth of new opportunities for wireless over-the-air content delivery.

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