Future App: Radio (1996)

By | May 15, 1996

If you have spoken to anyone about the internet, you know the game we play. What will it be like? What will the internet do in the coming days/months/years?

Of course Kokopelli has predicted the Killer App of the internet is free long distance and video conferencing, but what else will revolutionize the world in which we live? What else will happen to make current thinking obsolete? I’m glad you asked.

Radio.

Currently radio stations make money by broadcasting to a local area defined by the reach of their megawatt transmitter. Right now you can use RealAudio or Streamworks by Xing Technologies to listen to some voice broadcasts real time. They aren’t that good. In fact they suck.

The change will come when cable modems hit the consumer market. In New York they are trying for late summer but I don’t think that is realistic. I am hoping for pre-new year. Anyway, when cable modems do arrive it will usher in high quality sound from the web. Quality that might even surpass current FM standards. Radio stations will not let this little quirk pass them by.

Imagine you want to set up a radio station in this new atmosphere. You can reach the entire world without a powerful transmitter and a prime location in a bustling city. In fact, you do not even have to be in the United States paying those burdensome taxes. You could live in Anguilla and swim in the Caribbean before work, transmit your talk show from an office in the middle of the jungle, and pump your feed out a T-3 line into the internet. Piece of Cake.

What I am talking about is the end of territorial broadcasts. Why should Z100 in New York limit themselves just to the metropolitan area? Why should anyone? But wait there is more!

There will soon (5-10 years) be a low flying satellite network using cellular technology to make a new internet flying just out of site above our heads. This network can patch these feeds directly into a mobile cellular unit. A car radio can now pick up cellular signals from the sat-net and feed in radio from your hometown. Calling into a station will be as easy as one button and speaking into the radio because it can also act as a cellular phone.

The potential is staggering. Radio antenna companies are in a lot of trouble. The FCC will have to redefine the very structure of broadcasting in the US. Can the FCC regulate a radio station that broadcasts from Anguilla? Will they be free from censorship? Will this new communication spawn Internet Free Radio broadcasting from a mobile home with a cellular feed driving the lonely roads of Australia?

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