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Understanding Internet Radio – Evolution, Advantages and the System

The sole method of obtaining radio broadcasts online until the 21st century, was via your PC. Today, with wireless connectivity, web broadcasts can now be fed to mobile phones, car radios and other Internet-connected 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. Compared to traditional broadcasting, Internet broadcasting is also not restricted to audio. It may accompanied by graphics or pictures, links, text and even message boards, chat rooms and other interactive offerings. This technology allows people to listen and do a lot more things simultaneously, leading to increased and deepened interactions between advertisers and consumers. This enhanced media capability can also be used in many other ways. With Internet radio, for instance, trainings or seminars can be conducted, and links to documents and payment options may be provided.
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Cost, of course, remains to be among the most obvious advantages Internet radio has over traditional radio. Being “on the air” online is far less pricey for Internet broadcasters, who can even target particular communities of listeners looking for certain types of music or having special 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. The audio from the sound card is then translated by the encoder system into streaming format. Such audio is sampled by the encoder and before being compressed for transmission 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.

The two ways through which audio can be delivered over the Internet are by downloading and by media streaming. When an audio file is downloaded, it is stored on the user’s computer. Audio streaming only plays the file without storing it. It is a continuing broadcast that works through an encoder, a server and a player. The audio content is converted into streaming format by the encoder, made available on the Internet by the server and then retrieved by the user 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.