? Digital Terrestrial Radio in Israel - Or Not

Historic Notes

BEZEQ ,Israel's largest telecom company started experimenting DAB broadcasts in 1996. BEZEQ also runs most of the digital terrestrial radio and television distribution systems in the country (for IPBC - ISrael Public Broadcasting Corporation that replaced IBA - ISrael broadcasting Authority in 2017) . BEZEQ had been experimenting digital terrestrial television in Israel since 1996. Following a decision made in 2007 by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Telecomminications to block BEZEQ from participating in the tender for the operator of the regular DVB-T infrastructure, BEZEQ closed down all its experimental DAB transmissions. Sinc ethen there have been no DAB transmissions in the country.

The DAB+ Tender: Big Hopes, Big Failure. Still Dreaming

On June 4, 2008 the Ministry of Communications announced the tender for a DAB+ system in Israel.This announcement ended an intense three-year preparation phase that followed a government decision to introduce digital radio and TV services. The current spectrum congestion and the relatively small size of the country prevent the addition of any more radio networks, so the decision for a new multichannel digital radio service was the only solution.
The tender was for a contrywide license, based on the build-operate-transfer (BOT) principle.
In the first stage, the DAB+ system was to accommodate 36 channels at 48 or 64 kbps each, and then 54 channels in the second stage

The basic plan was to have a SFN - single frequency network, but a plan based on a combined SFN/MFN design was also under consideration
The franchise period was intended for 14 years
Being aware of the commercial uncertainty and the complexity in justifying a reasonable return on investment, the government, on the one hand, said it will mandate a substantial discount to potential broadcasters on the proposed transfer cost, which will gradually decrease in each of the following four years after the system becomes operational

On the other hand, and to encourage potential bidders to take the risk, the government proposed a grant of up to 23 million new Israeli shekels ( approx US$5.750.000 ) . The decision on the winning bidder was to take into account the amount asked from the government as a grant

For the main technical requirements, the tender specified an urban indoor reception level of 66 dB (uV/M), with protection level 3 according to the PRC2006 guidelines, 60 dB (uV/M) on the highways and 40dB (uV/M) in rural outdoor areas

The system was expected to be operational 12 months after award, with proven 80% coverage of urban areas with over 20,000 inhabitants 80% of rural places and 80% of the highways

Six months later, the coverage should reach 90% , 85% and 90% respectively, then rising to 98 percent, 90 percent and 95% after 23 months

The general planning guidelines specified three types of sites: main sites with transmission powers of more than 500 W, 10-dBi antennas and towers higher than 60 meters; medium-sized sites with 100 to 500 W transmitters, 6- to 8-dBi antenna systems and 30-meter towers; smaller, gap-filler sites with sub-100 W transmitters, 3dBi antenna systems and 10 to 15 meter towers.

Israel has adopted the new DAB+ standard for digital radio

The Tender
Unfotunately, the tender presented by the MInistry of Communications together with the 2nd Authority for Radio and Television was a total failure. Even after being extended twice , on the day the tender box was officially opened, it did not contain even one envelope
The 2nd Authority for Radio and Television said it will try to intoroduce digital radio through the digital television service , but in our opinion this service is will be a total waste of public money

Legislation : DAB and satellite radio approved in March 2005

In March 2005 the Israeli Knesset ( parliament) has approved the 2005 Government Budget Law that included the establishing of DAB and satellite radio broadcasting in Israel
The Second Authority for Television and Radio will be responsible for the new spectrum and will hold
- a tender for a new broadcasting service provider that will set up a national transmitter system to cover the whole country . Such a provider will be responsible for the technical part of beaming the DAB stations across Israel.
- a tender will be for radio stations that will operate solely in DAB.
- a tender for radio packages via satellite. In this area, there will be no tedner but any interested parties will get a license if they will comply with the requirements set up by the Authority

So far there has been no satellite radio tender in Israel and the prospects of such a future tender to be published in the near future are very low.
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