Digital interface on FM-AM radios

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Article 1044 of the Law of 27/12/2017 mentions an interface that must be present on all FM/AM radios.

The purposes of this article

Interfaccia digitale sulle radio FM-AM n.1
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We report art.1044 of the Law of 27/12/2017:

In order to foster technological innovation, with effect from 1 June 2019, equipment capable of receiving radio broadcasts sold by manufacturers to distributors of retail electronic equipment on national territory shall incorporate at least one interface enabling the user to receive digital radio services. For the same purposes, with effect from 1 January 2020, radio equipment for the reception of radio broadcasts sold to consumers within the national territory shall incorporate at least one interface enabling the user to receive digital radio services.

According to some, this article is not clear and there have been many who have tried to give their own interpretation. Many articles have expressed their opinion on the meaning of "digital radio", but we want to try to interpret how the article of the Law is translated into commercial terms and therefore the "core" is the interface with which we must equip AM / FM radios.

In our opinion, in practical and commercial terms, this interface essentially translates into the Bluetooth one, in this article we explain why.

The digital interface for FM/AM radios

For us, who are from the nautical sector in the electronic segment, the term "interface" is clear and subject to very few interpretations. More generally, almost all of us have had to deal with a WiFi or Bluetooth interface and therefore the term cannot even be misunderstood by most.

This article is within a law where we talk about the future of high technology (5G etc) related to the Internet and the same article is introduced with the phrase "In order to encourage technological innovation" which can not be a casual premise.

We are therefore faced with a technological "interface". So we have to think about Bluetooth, WiFi or a 5G SIM, much less about a low-tech interface and not at all about a simple connector (the AUX for instance).

The technological interface that has dealt mainly with audio tranmissions and solving all the compatibility between the various standards, is the Bluetooth interface. This is the main reason why we believe that this "interface", translated in commercial terms, refers mainly to Bluetooth rather than to WiFi or a SIM, although, in our opinion, article 1044 does not exclude the latter.

In Germany, there is a similar proposal for a law, which seems to have been shaped by the same person, but it is slightly more explanatory and so we are taking it further. They are expressly referred to as the "digital interface" capable of decoding content. This is exactly what a Bluetooth interface does, even if it does not exclude other interfaces a priori.

Today we have more and more audio devices to connect to each other and the Bluetooth interface guarantees us excellent compatibility, low energy impact (especially with the new BLE) and pollution of the radio spectrum far lower than other technologies such as WiFi or 5G. For these reasons an audio product without Bluetooth is now commercially of little value, the article of the Law does nothing but indulge and push towards this market trend.

The meaning of digital radio

In our opinion, there is no direct commercial impact on the device with which this interface will have to communicate, but for the sake of completeness we want to give our interpretation of the term "digital radio".

To the request for clarification of this term, 80% of Italians answer "Internet Radio", in fact we know that it can include a large number of technologies, but mainly we mean DAB radio, WEB radio, IP radio or simple streaming (from Pandora, Spotify etc).

The reason why none of these technologies can be excluded is because of the principle of technological neutrality that must be respected by all member states of the European community and the legislator, well aware, expressed itself with a generic term that could encompass them all.

In our opinion, any indirect commercial repercussions should be sought in the progress of similar technologies. TV has moved from analogue to DVB, but today we are in the era of smart TV. For analogue radio, there has never been a real transition to DAB, but we are now in the era of WEB radio and streaming, with all the resentment we can have, in a world trapped in a push towards 5G.