AMS-I now TheRadio.Com; tests streaming with Ford Sync


American Media Services-Internet announced that it has changed its name to TheRadio.Com LLC, reflecting the ongoing global shift to digital media and online radio. TheRadio.Com also launched “Millennium Number 1s,” a contemporary Pop format, bringing its total number of online channels to 100.

TheRadio.Com last week successfully demonstrated the viability of Ford’s new Sync device, a fully-integrated voice-activated system developed in partnership with Microsoft that now is a dealer-installed option in 12 Ford-Lincoln-Mercury 2008 vehicles.

The test involved a Pantech PN-820 cell phone and a Dell XPS-1330 laptop, both linked via Bluetooth to the in-dash Sync unit in a 2008 Explorer in a ride in and around Charleston, SC. It included these two different receiver devices in order to determine which software and hardware performed better with the Sync system, and also to identify which one would deliver higher audio quality and technical reliability.

The test began with the Pantech cell phone running the Windows Mobile operating system and intermittently playing both 32 kbps and 64 kbps streams using the built-in Windows Media Player. Midway during the experiment the Pantech phone was switched out with the Dell laptop which was used to test the 64 kbps Windows Media stream, as well as a 64 kbps aacPlus stream using both the Windows Media Player with the Orban aacPlus plugin and Winamp Player.

Both the phone and the laptop were connected wirelessly through the Sync’s built-in Bluetooth connection. Throughout the test there was only one period of drop-out, when the cell phone reception momentarily disappeared near the Medical University of SC in downtown Charleston.

Despite intense efforts to overload the cell phone system, as well as deliberate attempts to tie up two separate streams (64 kbps and 128 kbps) in order to crash the cell system, it never went down again. The laptop performed consistently well, and all participants in the test judged the 64 kbps aacPlus stream to be better than both FM and satellite radio reception, and roughly equivalent to a CD.

 “Just as with last month’s test in the San Francisco Bay Area, this experiment clearly demonstrates the viability of Internet radio,” said Reed Bunzel, TheRadio.Com CEO. “New media critics have long argued that webcasting will never be a competitive threat to terrestrial radio broadcasting until it is fully functional in the dashboards of vehicles, but it’s quite evident through this test that streaming to cars and other mobile devices is very real, and coming very soon.”

RBR observation: In the future, when the cell phone and/or laptop are not needed for streaming audio (live internet will be built in the dash), the reception will be even better—vehicles will incorporate a high-gain antenna outside the vehicle.