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Broadcasting v Internet

We love the internet BUT it is not the sole future platform for radio. Here are just some reasons why;

Simple physics means there are limits to broadband. This is even more true with internet over phone networks. If you’ve been to a major football or music event you’ll know that phone networks go down or get jammed when too may people use them at the same time. Broadcasting networks reach an infinite number of users, reliably and consistently.

It costs around 3 cent per GB to broadcast on the internet. Ridiculously cheap? Not if you are broadcasting to large audiences. If Norwegian national broadcaster NRK were to distribute its radio and TV offering via the internet it would cost €150 million a year. Broadcast by comparison is even more ridiculously cheaper!

In the UK a phone network with mobile internet would require 16,000 transmitters.  Each with technical equipment, maintenance, rent, electricity etc   An equivalent broadcasting network only requires 300 transmitters.

The internet works poorly when you are traveling, especially at high speeds. Regular web browsing is OK as it’s done asynchronously but live streams such as radio fail repeatedly.  Broadcasting has been tested on planes, trains and automobiles and works well right up to speeds of 900 km/h.

The internet is full of “middle-men” with several ISP networks between you and your listener. A problem with just one of them puts you off-air. If you’re using on a walled-garden platform such as Facebook or Apple to connect with listeners, one change from those platforms can put you off-air. Broadcasting is direct between the transmitter and the radio receiver.

Phones need regular re-charging because their chipsets use a lot of power. Radio receiver chipsets use fifteen times less power.  Broadcasting is greener and batteries last longer.

Internet is not free. You have to pay a monthly subscription or jump on someone else’s connection. Once you have a radio receiver, radio is free, forever.

Finally, and crucially, both DAB and internet radio have been available in the UK for the past 10 years. Looking at what consumers are choosing, RAJAR shows a massive preference for DAB over internet.

The internet offers amazing opportunities for radio broadcasters but relying on it as your sole broadcasting platform is not one of them.

It’s no accident broadcasting has been successful for over a hundred years. It’s simple, reaches an infinite number of users at a fixed cost, and it’s free to listeners. Broadcasting methods might change. Radio has moved from AM to FM to DAB and TV moving to digital / satellite etc but the basic transmitter to receiver model will be with us for a long time to come.