Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Radio Authority


  At the Committee session today, we were asked how much it costs to stream an existing commercial radio service over the Internet. We have now been able to take a preliminary look into the question, and the purpose of this letter is to ask you to let the Chairman and the Committee know what we have found out.

  Unfortunately, the question does not permit of one simple answer. We are clear that the cost of hardware is minimal. We estimate that £2,000 will provide an adequate PC, and much less than £1,000 will pay for media streaming software.

  However, the main variable is the amount of bandwidth employed. For as little as £500 a year, a station could use an ADSL line. This would allow for up to 20 simultaneous users, but it gives no pre-emption and so in busy periods the station might be down to one or two users only being able to access their server.

  A more commercial basis would be to buy guaranteed bandwidth, either with a line direct to the server or through a specialist streaming company. We understand that this is normally done on the basis of a guaranteed number of simultaneous users. One major radio group uses such a streaming company, and pays in the order of £150,000 a year for 5,000 simultaneous users. Another, which leases its bandwidth directly for the same capacity, pays around £350,000 per year.

  Our initial impression was that the figure of 5,000 simultaneous users, which seems to be that which was worked to by most commercial companies, was on the low side. However, our investigations suggest providing bandwidth to accomodate say 250,000 simultaneous users would take you into the realms of becoming a telecommunications company. The cost would be literally millions of pounds.

  I hope this information is helpful to the Committee. Should they require further information we would be happy to research the topic more thoroughly.

February 2001

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