In what will likely be the opening move in a global transition to digital radio, Norway has announced it will shut down its FM band. Norway will start turning off FM radio on Jan. 11, 2017, and plans to stop transmission of the last FM signal to the country’s northernmost regions by Dec. 13 of that year.
The announcement, made by their Ministry of Culture, makes Norway the first country to do away entirely with FM radio. The move is intended to save money and allow a full transition to digital radio, which Norway argues will give listeners “access to more diverse and pluralistic radio content and enjoy better sound quality and new functionality.”
In its statement, the Norwegian government said the cost of transmitting national radio channels through the FM network is eight times higher than via the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) system, the standard digital radio technology used across Europe. By shutting off FM, Norway’s national radio channels will save more than $25 million a year, according to official figures “releasing funds for investment in radio content,” argued Minister of Culture Thorhild Widvey.