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Internet Radio – Evolution, Advantages and How It Works
Until the current century, your PC was the only means to obtain Internet radio broadcasts. With today’s wireless connectivity, web broadcasts can now be channeled through car radios, cell phones and other mobile devices.
Advantages of Internet versus Traditional Radio
The capabilities of traditional radio station broadcasts are restricted by two major factors: the station’s transmitter power, which is typically 100 miles, and the available broadcast spectrum, which normally covers around 24 local channels max.
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Of course, we are all aware of Internet radio’s geographically unlimited reach, which is synonymous with having unlimited potential. As opposed to traditional radio, Internet radio also goes beyond audio. It can be enriched by photos or images, links and text, and even interactive features, such as chat rooms, forums and the like. This technology allows people not only to listen to music or radio programs, but also to do many other things at the same time, enriching the relationship between consumers and advertisers as their interactions deepen and become more personal. This improved media capability can also be useful in several other ways. For instance, with online radio, you can conduct training or education programs, as well links to important documents and payment options.
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Cost, of course, remains to be among the most obvious advantages Internet radio has over traditional radio. Getting “on the air” online is far cheaper for Internet broadcasters, who can also target specific communities of listeners who are on certain music or interests.
So how does Internet broadcasting happen? First, by way of a sound card, the audio enters the computer used by the Internet broadcaster for encoding. Then the audio from the sound card is transformed into streaming format by the encoder system. The audio, after being sampled by the encoder, is compressed and then transmitted to a high-bandwidth server. The server delivers the audio data stream over the Internet and into the plug-in or player software that is installed on the listener’s computer, and there, the stream will be translated into humanly appreciable sound.
Audio can be delivered online either through downloads or by streaming media. When an audio file is downloaded, it is stored on the user’s computer. In audio streaming, the file is simply played, but it is not stored. It is a continuous broadcast that requires three software packages – the encoder, the server and the player. The file is converted by the encoder to streaming format, then it is made available online by the server, and finally, the user retrieves the content through the player.
For a live broadcast, the encoder and streamer work in unison in real-time. An audio feed goes to the encoding computer’s sound card, at the broadcast area, and the stream will be uploaded to the streaming server. With a large amount of computing resources being required by the process, it’s a must that the streaming server be a dedicated server.