Digital Radio

The increasing popularity of high speed broadband internet connections has allowed a variety of new internet applications including the most recent explosion of internet radio services. There are now thousands of online radio stations to choose from, all streaming live to cater to a growing variety of musical tastes.  Online radio is generally referred to as webcasting as it doesn’t use traditional radio broadcasting technology.
The technology behind online radio and live streaming was first officially put to the test when in November 1994 a Rolling Stones concert was broadcast live on the internet. 
Internet radio is different from podcasting as no information is actually downloaded onto your computer; instead it is ‘streamed’ live to your computer. In this way it is similar to traditional radio as it is live and you cannot fast forward or rewind online radio.

Online radio transcend the traditional boundaries of radio broadcasting as consumers can now listen to a variety of radio stations from around the world, all from the comfort of their own homes. This can be a great resource if you are interested in foreign music or languages as you can immerse yourself in the culture of their online radio representation.  Online radio is also popular among expatriates as it allows them to listen to radio from their home country around the world.

Unlike traditional analogue radio broadcasts, internet radio takes advantage of increasing bandwidth allocations available through broadband internet connection to broadcast live radio. Streaming online radio will use a small part of your monthly download quota and you will need to keep this in mind when calculating your monthly download usage requirements.

An average online radio stream will use around 84MB per hour of listening. On most broadband plans without an excess usage fee the data usage of online radio shouldn’t affect the cost of your broadband connection.

Online radio will continue to grow in popularity as more and more consumers use their broadband internet connection to take advantage of the thousands of online radio stations. One estimate revealed in 2003 the revenue from online streaming was US $49 million, which increased to US $500 million in 2006. According to the annual Internet and Technology Report compiled by Nielsen Online, traditional radio consumption by Internet users declined by 1.1 hours in December 2008, while the total number of radio hours - broadcast and online - increased by nearly 2 hours amongst urban dwellers, thanks to faster connection speeds allowing more reliable streaming radio programs.  Overall, online radio consumption increased to 4.9 hours in 2008, up from 4.2 hours in 2007.

In order to listen to an online radio program, you will first need to find an appropriate broadband internet plan. To listen to online radio is it generally recommended you have an ADSL broadband plan with speeds 1500kbps or higher. Below this speed the quality and clarity of the connection is decreased.

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