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UK to trial music downloads via DAB

Digital radio delivery

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Think you need an internet connection for music downloads? Think again. UBC Media Group, one of the UK's largest independent radio production companies, today launched a download service that delivers songs across the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) network.

To be fair, we're not quite talking iTunes here. UBC's system, which is being offered next month on a trial basis by Chrysalis Radio station Heart, simply allows digital-radio listeners to buy the track they're currently listening to and have it transferred to a DAB-compatible music player.

UBC's service broadcasts encoded and encrypted music files alongside a radio station’s audio stream. These are cached for a short time in the mobile device and can be bought and kept immediately. The company said the purchase would also trigger the transfer of the song to a user's web-accessed music library, allowing them to download the song to a PC and to copy it to DRM-supporting portable music players.

UBC said songs are expected to cost around £1.25 ($2.27), bought through a pre-pay credit system. Mobile phones with built-in DAB receivers are expected to appear later this year, the company forecast.

The Heart trial is planned to run for four weeks from the end of July. It will be limited to 100 consumers in Birmingham. UBC said the service had the support of all four major recording companies - Sony BMG, EMI, Warner and Universal - as well as public performance and mechanical rights organisations. ®

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