Radio companies work on hybrid radio

From a press release to
Posted 14 October 2014, 6.03am edt


The BBC is leading the development of a new generation of ‘hybrid’ radio, following extensive research that shows most smartphone users want broadcast radio in their devices.

The BBC is working with a coalition of global broadcasters – which includes UK commercial radio, the EBU, Clearchannel, Ibiquity, Emmis Interactive, NAB and Commercial Radio Australia – to research and develop ‘hybrid’ radio – a combination of internet and broadcast (DAB or FM) radio – for use in mobile phones.

New research commissioned by the BBC shows the majority of smartphone users want radio in their devices but have concerns around mobile data costs, battery use and reception issues when using streamed audio services.

It showed that people would value hybrid radio which brings together the strengths of broadcast radio – free-to-receive, robust reception and reliability- with the digital enhancements and interactivity of internet radio.

Nearly two thirds of the mobile phone owners surveyed found the idea of hybrid radio appealing and said it could be a deciding factor when faced with a choice between phones with similar specs.

Better reception coverage, longer battery life and reduced mobile data costs were recognised as key benefits for hybrid radio in mobile devices and would make a tangible difference to listening whilst on the move or in the car.

The coalition – under the banner of the Universal Smartphone Radio Project – has been discussing hybrid radio with mobile and technology manufacturers, and how to build the functionality into handsets.

Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy [was due to say at the Radio Festival this morning]: “People clearly want to listen to the radio through their phone but won’t because of understandable concerns. This exciting project promises to strip away those barriers and put free and easy radio listening into our phones.”

Helen Boaden said: “There is an enduring love for radio and easy listening on the move is critical for this. This UK-led global partnership is a response to listeners’ demand for simple, charge-free radio in mobile phones.”

Editor's note: The above image is a Samsung Galaxy smartphone model which includes FM/IP hybrid radio as standard.