• United States

New Radio@AOL service features new format

May 28, 20032 mins
Data Center

AOL today launched a series of enhancements to its Radio@AOL service for both broadband and narrowband customers. The most dramatic of the changes is a completed switch from using RealNetworks’ format to AOL’s own Ultravox platform that’s based on Dolby’s AAC codec. Previously, only broadband content was delivered using Ultravox. The new version does mean changes for broadband users, including clips that used to be delivered at 128K bit/sec are now delivered at 64K bit/sec with same or better sound quality. On the dial up side, clips are delivered at 20K bit/sec with initial buffer times reduced by 200%, according to Jim Van Huysee, general manager of the Radio@AOL Network.

The switch to using its own Ultravox delivery platform benefits both AOL and its customers. [AOL hasn’t completely ditched RealNetworks. The company is still using RealNetworks technology in other areas of its business.] For AOL, it can better manage its streaming infrastructure. For the users, especially those with broadband, the reduction is required bandwidth means they’ll have more capacity to do other tasks like reading e-mail and surfing the Web while listening to the streaming content. AOL’s also added a new feature that allows its Instant Messenger users to send a link to the current song being played to a buddy so they can listen along at the same time.

Radio@AOL delivers about 175 “stations” to AOL subscribers, with a mix of live simulcast broadcasts and AOL-only stations that are generated via a server-side playlist. The company recently signed a deal to offer certain Infinity Broadcasting stations via the Radio@AOL service.

08/20/03 UPDATE: Please note that Network World is not affiliated with AOL so we have no way of answering all your techical support-related questions regarding Radio@AOL. I did some checking on the Internet and didn’t come across any obvious spots to point you for help. I would suggest contacting AOL customer support directly.