Commercial radio broadcasters are blaming poor bandwidth and expensive Net access for delaying the next revolution in Internet broadcasting,
David Jones, Head of IT at Virgin radio, says the UK's broadband revolution can't come soon enough for Internet radio broadcasters. "Broadband will mean a convergence between radio and other forms of broadcasting. At the moment we only have AM and FM licenses but Internet broadcasting will mean we can reach anyone at anytime."
Ginger Media Group, owner of Virgin radio and headed by lads' hero Chris Evans, on Monday announced it is testing technology designed to enable high quality radio broadcasting to mobile computers via the Internet. Ginger Media is working with Ericsson on prototypes of "third generation" mobile phones using the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) protocol. UMTS is a wireless data transfer protocol designed to accommodate download speeds of up to 2MB per second. This will make near CD quality audio streaming possible for the first time.
Russ Williams, who co-presents Virgin radio's Saturday morning football show with Terry Venables, believes the Internet has already changed radio broadcasting beyond recognition. "The potential of Internet Broadcasting is tremendous," he says. "Each week I am amazed by how many listeners we get from abroad, particularly the US." Virgin radio estimates that around half its Internet listeners are based in the US.