David J. Blanc is a French radio consultant as well as a visiting professor at the American University of Paris. He is a member of the reputable SNRL (national radio syndicate) in Paris and has been instrumental in the setting-up of several radio stations, both digital and traditional, across Europe and Africa. His interest in technology cuts across several areas.
The Other Afrik - United Kingdom - Panafrica - Media - Radio - Technology
African Radio Stations take on the world
Saturday 13 March 2010 / by David Blanc, for the other afrik
It has finally happened. A Sub-Saharan radio station is streaming live on the Internet in CD quality. Why did it take so long? The reason is simple : Bandwidth.
For years, Internet connections in Africa were desperately slow, way too slow for radio stations, however wealthy, to offer their programming internationally in high quality.
And many stations have been streaming online in very poor quality for years, but Radio Jam in Abidjan has mastered the technology to overcome the obstacle of bandwidth rarity and cost.
Thanks to the technical expertise of Afrik-news.com, Radio Jam is now available to anyone with an internet connection, including iPhones, just about anywhere.
For the time being, this broadcast is in the testing phase, and some technical glitches could still occur, but the system is solid and should run smoothly for years to come.
Broadcasting online in CD quality means offering a stable 128kbps stream to each listener. Having just 10 simultaneous listeners will saturate any ADSL line. So the server cannot be housed at the radio station.
It has to be done somewhere else with a larger, reliable and cheap bandwidth.
This logical reasoning resorted in Radio Jam beaming their audio to London, where a server makes the stream available to a larger number of listeners.
Many Ivorian expatriates have praised the station for this bold decision, enabling them to stay in touch with the latest news and music from Cote d’Ivoire.
Now, why are other stations reluctant to do the same?
Well, first, there is the lack of technical know-how. Secondly, cost — renting a server is not exactly free. Finally, few stations feel they can benefit from setting up this system.
In fact, such a stream is almost only dedicated to international listeners and will not have any effect on their commercial revenue.
So it comes down to being the first, and also being the best station in town. It’s a question of image; it’s a well known fact that a radio station’s success greatly depends on its image.
So who will be next? Welcome to world-class radio broadcasting, at last.
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