The RDS Forum is the international platform for advances in RDS technology – The next meeting of the RDS Forum is on 20/21 May 2019

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Two years ago we, in the RDS Forum 2009, celebrated the 25th anniversary of the RDS specification being published by the EBU in 1984.

RDS and FM radio are by now a fully established radio technology, worldwide. Almost every person on earth has at least one FM radio, and a large proportion of those radios have RDS, in cars it’s nearly 100%. FM/RDS means excellent sound quality and extremely cost-efficient receivers with over a billion units produced each year world wide. Difficult to image that such a successful technology would ever be abandoned. If phased out, it will take decades, as the listeners in the large majority do not see yet any need for a change.

We, in the RDS Forum, have successfully adapted RDS to meet the new requirements for mobile reception. In 2009 RadioText Plus, first discussed in the Forum in 2005, became a feature of the FM radio within the iPod nano 5G and since then it is in the more recent models as well. This very attractive feature, which can give among many other possibilities links to relevant web sites and the music titles and artist names, is for sure appealing to the younger radio audience.

So what is the future then of RDS? Think about this:

It is very clear, Digital Radio will continue to be strongly marketed, but FM radio with RDS will most probably remain the most important radio transmission technology for the next 15 to 20 years.

Nevertheless we must now seriously consider the transition process to Digital Radio. The receiver environment, where this transition can be quite complex, will definitely be in the car. We must look to practical use cases, where a car moves across Europe and where the radio landscape will no longer be uniform (as with FM in the past), but now it will be hybrid (with Digital & FM radio), where Digital radio can be either DAB or DAB+ or DMB or HD Radio or perhaps even DRM.

A successful transition to Digital radio can only be guaranteed with solid links to FM/RDS. The RDS Forum will take the initiative with associated partners. That’s why it is important for you, the broadcasters, that you remain involved and participate in the work we do in the Forum for you and your listeners’ benefit.

The RDS Forum continues to drive innovation in the the field of FM radio by providing state-of-the-art solutions. Even an enhanced RDS data transmission capacity may be possible in a few years.