By mike
15 November 2011

The technical model for Internet Radio is the client/server model that evolved as a preferred architecture for distributed data networks during the 1990’s.  As Ethernet became the dominant protocol for network communications, it became obvious that a more distributed network approach than the established centralized model dominated by UNIX computers offered substantial advantages for many applications.  Nowhere was this more evident than in Internet applications.
The Web introduced the first client applications as web browsers, rather ubiquitous now, but early on were adaptations of the distributed information systems architecture.  Web radio is one of the applications made available by the extension of the web browsers multimedia capabilities, as additional clients were developed that became generally known as media players.
The media player is well established in early 2004, as Microsoft and Apple offer versions with their operating systems.  Commercial companies such as RealNetworks have evolved from their start as pioneers in web streaming to their status as a market leader in streaming technologies, offering media player, encoding, and streaming server technologies to the marketplace.
As the client piece of the model, the media player resides on the user/listener’s computer.  Available bandwidth from the listeners’ connection to the Internet plays a major role in the effectiveness of the media player.  This may vary among a basic dial-up telephony connection at 28.8 kBps, a DSL connection at 512-1000 kBps, a cable modem connection @ 1.5 mBps, an ISDN basic rate line at 128 kBps, an ISDN primary rate line or T1 connection at 1.54 Mbps.  Bandwidth considerations and decisions regarding what bandwidth to allow for stream delivery are always key components of the Web Radio operation.
>> Options for increased bandwidth have improved significantly since 2004.  On the telephone carrier side, dial -up and DSL are now able to be significantly upgraded by Fiber to the Home (FTTH) architectures, such as Verizon’s FIOS Network.
On the Cable TV (CATV) side both the downstream capability and the upstream capability have increased to where 6-10 Mbps of downstream capacity is considered the norm, and upstream has increased into the Megabit range as well.
Rather than introduce the achievable streaming rates for today’s networks in 2011/2012, I will  create a new table and add it as an Appendix in a future post. <<
While it the client side of the model that initiates the distribution of the multimedia content, the server remains the heart of the system, as it must distribute the content in a stream format recognized by the player.  Competition among strong players in the streaming field such as Microsoft, RealNetworks, Apple, and others has led to multiple standards and requirements for dedicated servers for each format.  The Streaming Server Section discusses the emergence of multi-standard servers capable of supporting multiple formats.  These allow the webcaster to reach players operating on different standards.
Streaming technology has led to the development of “the streaming server”, although applications can be run on traditional Web servers and Microsoft has a good deal of information available on this topic from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/howto/articles/webserver.aspx.  However, the streaming server is the optimum method of establishing a Web Radio transmission.
>> Good to see this content link is still active and I beleive the content provided remains meaningful in 2011.<<
While the streaming server is the key component in a Webcasting system, it does not necessarily need to be owned and/or operated by the webcaster.  As we shall see, there are a great number of service providers that allow personal, hobbyist, non-commercial, and commercial webcasters to provide streams to users without operating the streaming server themselves.  Appendix A lists many services available at the time this thesis was created, and a good example of this type of service can be viewed at Live365, http://www.live365.com/, one of the largest web radio hosting sites on the Internet.
The server is responsible for the delivery of the content streams to the listener, but it does generally perform the function of “encoding” the content into the proper format for delivery to the client media player.  A CODEC accomplishes this task before the server distributes the content.
Again, there is an almost dizzying array of technologies and proprietary CODECs available for this purpose, which we will consider under the broader topic of Authoring Technologies within Chapter 2.  Also to be considered here are tools available not only for encoding music into digital formats, but also for editing the raw uncompressed files, as well as the automation tools available to control the playback of the content desired for the web radio broadcast.

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I was going a little stir crazy back in my parent's house in Norristown PA in the late 70's.  My time and experience with Bharat ended prior to my graduation from Delaware in 1976.  After graduation I was blessed to be able to meet up with a good friend and travel...

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