Norway will soon become the first country in the world to gradually stop using the FM radio network, with the first area to switch off these frequencies next week.
The move, which aims to ditch the analogue platform in favour of a digital one called Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), has caused some controversy among some people who say the majority of cars lack the necessary technology.
A poll by daily Dagbladet last month, when the radio shift was approved, found the majority of Norwegians — 66% — opposing the move, with just 17% in favour and the rest undecided.
The government says the digital option will bring savings of more than 200 million kroner ($23.5 million) for broadcasters and a clearer sound for the only 5 million people living in a huge country formed by fjords and mountains.
“The main reason that Norway is the first is because of the Norwegian landscape, which has deep fjords, high mountains and scattered communities,” it said in a statement. “This makes it particularly expensive to operate the Norwegian FM networks compared with other countries.”
The shutdown will begin in the city of Bodoe on Jan. 11 and is expected to cover the whole country by the end of the year.
Several other countries, including Switzerland, Britain and Denmark, are considering a similar shift to digital.
But critics, including Ib Thomsen, an MP from the Progress Party, a partner in the Conservative-led government, consider the move a hazard.
He told Reuters that Norway “is simply not ready for this yet”.
“There are 2 million cars on Norwegian roads that don’t have DAB receivers, and millions of radios in Norwegian homes will stop working when the FM net is switched off. So there is definitely a safety concern,” he said.
New adapters will reportedly cost 1,500 Norwegian kroner ($176).
Earlier this year, digital media expert Jan Thoresen wrote in Dagbladet: “Norwegian politicians have decided to make 15 million FM radios in Norway completely useless. That’s a bad idea.”
DAB radios are already present in about 70% of the homes, according to Radio.no.