India’s national radio broadcaster has ordered two 100 kW shortwave transmitters from the Swiss-German-Chinese group Ampegon. The new systems will replace existing analogue transmitters with simpler and more efficient analogue-digital ones.

They will be used for both DRM digital and analogue transmission. All India Radio (AIR) is said to have plans to upgrade 36 of its AM medium wave and four its AM shortwave transmitters to DRM.

The transmitters will be manufactured in Turgi, Switzerland and tested in collaboration with AIR engineers, with shipment expected for February 2014. AIR will install the transmitters near New Delhi, with plans for them to be operational by October.

The acquistion contrasts with the long-term decline and switchoff of SW in Europe and North America, as well as broadcasters such as the BBC and Deutsche Welle switching off their foreign SW services in India to reduce costs.

However shortwave is still considered to be the superior medium in reaching remote areas and poor people. Shortwave’s very long distance reach (international and even interncontinental) natural disasters bring local transmitters down, it is a key communication tool.

AIR broadcasts in 23 languages and 146 dialects. Its FM transmitters cover a third of India’s area and 41 per cent of the population. Its MW transmitters cover 92 per cent of the country and 99 per cent of the population. Its 48 SW transmitters are used for domestic and neighbouring country services, and further afield.