Commercial Radio Australia has struck a strategic partnership with Beijing Jolon Digital Media Broadcasting to develop and promote a technology that will allow podcasts to be sent via the DAB+ broadcast band.

Dubbed "Push Radio," Jolon has developed the technology which enables an audio file to be directly sent to a DAB+ digital radio receiver without an Internet connection.

The Australian trade body has signed a memorandum of understanding with their Chinese partner, with a view to launching the new digital radio application down under within the next year.

Both parties will establish a task force to operationally test the current technical standards for DAB+ and DAB+ Push Radio, with an Australian trial of the system penciled-in for late 2010.

"To free listeners from the necessity to connect to the Internet to receive podcasts and other specific information and targeted programming is a major step forward for DAB+ digital radio," comments CRA CEO Joan Warner in a statement. "Push Radio will make a podcast even more accessible for all digital radio listeners."

Digital radio has had an encouraging start in Australia since the DAB+ platform began rolling out in May 2009. CRA reported in March that a weekly average of 449,000 Australians were listening to digital stations, with 104,000 receivers shipped since the DAB+ rollout - outstripping first-year forecasts of 50,000 units.

Podcasts, according to CRA, have been key factor behind the solid start. Australians downloaded more than 4.6 million podcasts each month, according to data published by media market analyst CastMetrix in February.