Norway radio
Worker Ino Andre Nilsen arranges digital radios in an Expert City electronics shop in Oslo, Jan. 4, 2017. REUTERS/ALISTER DOYLE

Norway is going ahead with its controversial decision to switch off its FM radio network next week, making it the first country to go digital. Critics said the move was risky and unpopular pointing out that nearly 2 million cars in the nation are not equipped with Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) receivers.

The Norwegian parliament approved the switch despite 66 percent of the population opposing the decision, according to an opinion poll published last month. The parliament favored digital networks since they can carry more channels. At the same cost, DAB allows eight times more radio stations than FM.

The operations are due to start in the northern city of Bodoe on Jan. 11 with the total shutdown of all FM broadcasters slated to occur by the end of 2017. Proponents of this switch said DAB has a clearer sound.

“We’re the first country to switch off FM but there are several countries going in the same direction,” Ole Joergen Torvmark, head of Digital Radio Norway, reportedly said. However, he admitted that cars would be the “biggest challenge” as a good digital adapter for a car fitted with an FM radio would cost 1,500 Norwegian crowns ($174.70).

A member of the Progress Party, which is in coalition with the Conservative-led government, was not in favor of the switch from FM broadcasts to DAB.

“We are simply not ready for this yet,” Ib Thomsen told Reuters. “There are 2 million cars on Norwegian roads that don’t have DAB receivers, and millions of radios in Norwegian homes will stop working when the FM net is switched off. So there is definitely a safety concern.”

A smooth transition in Norway may embolden other nations to follow suit. Switzerland, Denmark and the U.K. are also planning on making this switch. The U.K. is planning on reviewing the need to go digital once digital listening reaches 50 percent.