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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. With today’s wireless connectivity, web broadcasts can now be channeled through car radios, cell phones and other mobile devices.

Advantages Offered by Internet Radio against Traditional Radio

There are two key factors that limit traditional radio broadcasts – the station’s transmitter power (usually 100 miles) and the broadcast spectrum available (about 24 local channels at most).
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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 radio, Internet radio is also not limited to 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 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. Going “on the air” online is far less expensive for web broadcasters, who can also choose particular communities of listeners to target, depending on certain types of music or interests.

So how does Internet broadcasting happen? First, the audio goes into the Internet broadcaster’s encoding computer via a sound card. The encoder system then converts the audio in the sound card into streaming form. Such audio is sampled by the encoder and before being compressed for transmission to a high-bandwidth server. The server forwards the audio data stream over the web to the player software or plug-in installed on the listener’s device, and there, the stream will be processed into humanly appreciable sound.

Audio can be delivered online either through downloads or by streaming media. Downloading involves storing a file on the user’s computer. Audio streaming does not involve storage; the file is only played. It is a continuing broadcast that works through an encoder, a server and a player. The encoder transforms audio content into streaming format, the server makes it available online and the player gets the content.

When the encoder and streamer work simultaneously in real-time, it is called a live broadcast. An audio feed goes to the sound card of the encoding computer at the broadcast location, and the stream is fed into 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.