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Just days after switch from FM, Norway's DAB system goes down

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Just days after switch from FM, Norway's DAB system goes down
The temporary outage came one week to the day after Norway flipped the switch to DAB. Photo: Jan-Morten Bjørnbakk / NTB scanpix
10:00 CET+01:00
Broken fibre optics cables caused the DAB system to go down across large parts of Norway on Wednesday night, mere days after the country began its controversial switchover from FM to digital radio.
“Due to the breakage of a fibre cable in Oppland county, we are without DAB coverage,” Saltan police wrote on Twitter. 
 
“I can confirm that it is a fibre break in the Oslo area and in Oppland. In Oppland it is affecting broadband and mobile, while there are problems with the DAB network across the country,” Elisabeth Aarsæther in Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority to VG. 
 
Digital TV and radio provider Norkring said the breach was caused by "human error related to excavation work”. Shortly before midnight on Wednesday the company said that the error had been fixed and that the network was up and running again. 
 
While the outage may have been temporary, it likely did little to assuage the concerns of the many Norwegians who say the country's complete switchover from FM to DAB is premature. 
 
Norway last week became the first country in the world to begin shutting down its FM radio network in favour of digital radio. The big switch-off started in Nordland and will expand to the rest of the country by the end of the year, making millions of old radios obsolete.
 
Although supporters say DAB offers better sound quality and more channels at an eighth of the cost of FM transmission, a recent poll found 66 percent of Norwegians are against shutting down FM, with only 17 percent in favour.
 
Converting a car radio involves buying an adaptor for between 1,000 and 2,000 kroner (€110 to €220), or getting a whole new radio.
 
"It's completely stupid, I don't need any more channels than I've already got," Eivind Sethov, 76, told AFP in Oslo. "It's far too expensive. I'm going to wait till the price of adaptors comes down before getting one for my car."
 
So while the switch to digital will reduce the cost of transmission for broadcasters, it is listeners who will pick up much of the cost of the transition.
 
Part of the reason Norway is the first country to switch away from traditional analogue transmission is to do with topography -- it is expensive to get FM signals to a small population scattered around a landscape riven with fjords and high mountains.
 
Norway's switchover will be watched closely in Europe by Switzerland, Denmark and Britain, where listeners have taken strongly to digital radio and which all plan plan to shut down FM radio broadcasts at some point in the future.

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