In-store DAB boosters come under fire

Use of DAB boosters in stores criticised by consumer groups
Use of DAB boosters in stores criticised by consumer groups

Following a successful, year-long trial of DAB repeaters installed in Currys and John Lewis, Ofcom has agreed to put in place a permanent licensing regime for all retailers across the country to make use of the short-range signal-boosting tech.

DSGi has already installed repeaters in over 300 of its Currys stores, so DAB digital radio can be demonstrated in the best way possible to its customers.

"We know from experience that demonstrating DAB radio in-store is the best way to show consumers the benefits of more station choice, ease of tuning and clean, digital quality sound," said Amanda Cottrell, trading manager at Currys' parent company DSGi.

"Consumers like to get hands-on with new technology and these DAB repeaters will help us to maximise sales in areas where demonstration was a problem."

Signal strength varies

There has been some criticism from Which?that the new scheme might go against the Consumer Act, which states that goods taken home "must correspond to the [shop] sample in quality."

Lizzy Payne, digital radio expert at Which? said: "We recommend that when you buy a DAB radio, you buy it from a store that will allow you to return the product if you are unable to receive an adequate signal when you get the device back home.

"We would also like to think that the stores with DAB repeaters installed will be courteous to their customers and point out that there is a DAB repeater installed and explain what this means."

DRDB responds

TechRadar spoke with a Digital Radio Development Bureau (DRDB) rep today who said, in response to the Which? criticism: "Low-powered repeaters simply allow a store to demonstrate existing DAB reception in a given area. Electrical retailers tend to be based in metal-skinned buildings, creating what's known as a Faraday Cage effect - which cuts off all radio and TV signals.

"A booster allows the store to replicate the experience a consumer would have in their home environment, providing they are in the same reception area as the store.

"We advise all potential customers via in-store Point of Sale and our website,, to use our online postcode checker to examine their coverage before buying a DAB radio. Exactly the same principle applies, for example, when buying a Freeview box."

Adam Hartley