OSLO, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Norway on Wednesday began to switch off its national frequency modulation (FM) radio network in favor of digital audio broadcasting (DAB) and the process will be completed by the end of this year.
According to the government's plan, Norway's three national radio broadcasters -- NRK, Radio Norge and P4 -- will phase out FM broadcasting region by region in the year, starting in the northern county of Nordland on Wednesday and concluding with the counties of Troms and Finnmark on Dec. 13.
In Oslo, NRK will switch off its FM broadcasting on Sept. 20, while Radio Norge and P4 will do the same on Dec. 8.
Some major regional radio broadcasters will be switched off at the same time, while other local radio stations will be allowed to continue FM broadcasts for five years after 2017.
In 2011, the Norwegian parliament adopted the official criteria for radio digitization. In 2015, the government concluded that all of the applicable criteria were met at the end of 2014 and that digitization should be implemented in 2017.
The Norwegian government and broadcasting industry believe that the DAB network offers clear advantages over the FM system, including better coverage, more channels, better sound effects and lower costs.
In Norway, whereas the FM system only had space for five national channels, DAB already offers 22 and there is capacity for almost 20 more.
The cost of transmitting national radio channels through the FM network is eight times higher than with the DAB network, and P4, Radio Norge and NRK are currently spending large sums on parallel distribution with both systems.
The government says it is difficult to broadcast radio signals via the FM network to all parts of Norway, a country with many high mountains and deep fjords, while the DAB network require far fewer transmitters and can support many more channels.
With the termination of the analogue services, Norway's national radio channels will realize savings of more than 200 million kroner (23.3 million U.S. dollars) a year, realizing more funds to improve the DAB network and create more and better radio content, according to the government's estimates.
Some critics say the technology shift has been met by strong industry interests and forces radio listeners to spend extra money on new equipment. Buying an adaptor or a whole new radio in Norway usually costs 1,000 to 2,000 kroner (117 to 234 U.S. dollars).
They also worry that many people without DAB radios would not receive reports on traffic conditions, accidents, bad weather or even national emergencies after the FM network is shut down.
A recent public opinion poll in newspaper Dagbladet showed that 66 percent of Norwegians are against switching off FM network, with only 17 percent in favor.