Friday, June 26, 2009

The BBC World Service comes to your cellphone

Back in the mid-1990s, when webcasts were in their infancy, shortwave radio enthusiasts quickly pointed out that webcasts weren't portable -- one was tethered to their Internet connection via a desktop or laptop PC. Fast forward a dozen years...the predominance of Wifi technologies has launched untethered laptops and spawned a generation of Internet radios. Shortwave enthusiasts could still claim that shortwave radios provided unmatched portability.

Enter cellular broadband can now install a USB card into a laptop computer and obtain relatively high-speed Internet access anywhere you can get cellphone access. AT&T has featured the former newsman Bill Curtis in a series of commercials touting where he's "found the Internet" using his AT&T laptop card. Verizon has a technology that allows you to create a personal Wifi "hotspot" which, in theory, could provide Internet connectivity to a battery-powered Internet radio.

If you live in India and have Reliance Mobile phone service, you can now access the BBC World Service via your cellphone 24/7 using the "R-World" service. Who needs a stinkin' radio, anyway?

Details here.

1 comment:

ralph said...

As one of the loudest voices who proclaimed that Internet radio wasn't portable, I have to agree to some extent that that's no longer true. My iPhone is smaller than the Sony SW-100 I used to take to the beach, and with my phone I can listen to almost any streaming audio online, including XM and Sirius, BBC World Service, Radiostantsiya Belarus, whatever you would want to listen to. It still has issues; 3G data networks are spotty even in the New York City metropolitan area where I live, and I can't get a solid signal with no dropouts on my train ride to and from the city each day; inevitably, I lose the connection at a number of points. Even sitting in my office in midtown Manhattan, this happens. But it's clearly the future, it works pretty well, and it will only get better as the mobile broadband infrastructure gets built out.