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RAIN 12/6: ISPs charging content networks for traffic could set dangerous precedent for Net radio

Posted on: 12/06/2010


In a story sweeping the Net, Comcast allegedly demanded additional fees from backbone provider and content distribution network (CDN) company Level-3 for delivering video content to Comcast customers. While this story primarily deals with video content (Level-3 is the exclusive provider of Netflix content in the U.S.), Radio Survivor’s Paul Riismandel ponders the possible implications for online radio.

“A victory for Comcast in this matter might cause the company to start looking to hit up services like Pandora or last.fm — which each have significantly larger audiences than Netflix — for additional fees,” writes Riismandel. Even smaller stations could be affected, he argues: if Comcast charges their CDNs a fee, that additional cost will likely get passed along to individual stations and services.

“A more damaging outcome would be if other ISPs decided to follow Comcast’s lead,” Riismandel continues (here). Such fees would hurt Internet radio’s low barrier to entry, “likely harming noncommercial and smaller webcasters. Large, corporate-backed webcasters, like Pandora, will probably withstand the fees, just like it seems Netflix will. But the overall diversity of web radio will suffer.”

Currently though, Comcast stands alone in allegedly demanding this sort of fee (according to Adam Rothschild of Voxel, here). Plus, Comcast has dismissed Level-3’s claims, according to the Wall Street Journal (here). But as Riismandel writes, this episode is “just the sort of thing that happens when there are no network neutrality protections for Internet content.”


Apple has submitted a patent for a native Radio app for AM, FM and satellite stations. The application would display song information like most Internet radio apps currently found in the App Store, but would also display a map of nearby stations and their relative signal strength.

Interesting, but Apple patents hardly indicate when or if such products or features will reach consumers’ hands. Apple has recently submitted patents for a hybrid touchscreen desktop computer, a handheld device that recognizes your hands and a smart bike. So let’s not hold our breath on this one. 9to5Mac has more coverage here.


New research from AdWeek found that 43% of Internet users tend to ignore or disregard banner ads. Analyst Jennifer Lane writes in a new blog post that this data puts Internet radio in a favorable position.

“This is a great opportunity for Internet radio sellers to bring their ad assets to digital shops and point out the amazing features of their banner units. They come with audio. They won’t get lost in the crowd. They’re two impressions instead of one.” You can find her full post here.


StreamS HiFi Radio, a new iPhone app from the makers of Tuner2, reportedly provides access to thousands of high quality AAC and HE-AAC radio streams. Users can bookmark favorite stations and buy tracks through iTunes. The app costs $5. You can find the developer’s press release here.

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  1. Just sent a link to this story to the FCC. Although the comment period in the dockets is closed, this will still be passed on to the right people ahead of the December 21st meeting, where the matter of Net Neutrality may well be taken up. Hopefully your bringing this story to everyone’s attention will help in that matter.

    James W. Anderson · Dec 6, 06:32 AM · #

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