BBC internet radio changes complete by Wednesday

Changes to the way BBC radio is distributed online are set to be completed by Wednesday 11th, with support for Windows Media Audio (WMA) and SHOUTcast AAC streams coming to an end.

In December, a516digital reported that the switch-off, originally announced as due to occur at the end of 2014 was postponed until February. Now it's been confirmed that the changes will be completed this week, which will affect some owners of internet radios.

SHOUTcast streams in MP3 are being retained for the benefit of internet radio devices that don't support the new formats being rolled out. Older SHOUTcast AAC streams are already being switched off.

BBC Reception Advice says that some internet radios will be affected, " but the effects may differ depending on whether you’re listening live or on demand." They recommend that users check their instruction booklet or contact the device manufacturer to check what formats their receiver supports.

The changes are part of the BBC's "Audio Factory" project, a new infrastructure platform supporting the distribution of BBC Radio online. Ahead of this week's changeover, Jim Simmons, the BBC's Senior Product Manager, Audio Services, BBC Radio and Music explained the background to the changes in a blog post: 
"Before Audio Factory, BBC internet audio streams were provided by different systems and suppliers. All of these disparate systems have reached their end of life. The hardware is, in some cases literally, rusting, and the software that is running the encoding is no longer supported by the companies that wrote it.

"Audio Factory was designed to keep our services available, make them more resilient and ensure a consistent experience. This has required an approach of standardisation. We have chosen http streaming methods to deliver the audio that are robust and are supported by multiple CDN [Content Delivery Network] partners. All our services are now available in HLS [http Live Streaming] and HDS [http Dynamic Streaming] using the AAC codec. By the summer we hope to have these streams available in the non-proprietary DASH [Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP] format."
Addressing concerns about device support, he added: 
"We have been communicating our plans to manufacturers and aggregators for the last 12 months but we are aware that some devices will not be able to receive these new formats, or there may be gaps in service as manufacturers work to deliver upgrades to devices to make them compatible with our new streams. We will continue to work with them to provide the best service we can."

There are likely to be further tweaks to the provision of BBC Radio over the internet with some BBC  radio stations needing to be switched from mono to stereo and the full range of bitrates and delivery methods are also yet to be rolled out.

See also:
Apology issued over BBC internet radio changes (12/02/2015)

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  1. This is terrible news! Neither my old Grace Internet Radio nor my new Amazon Echo device can receive the BBC broadcasts anymore. They were my lifeline to England while living in the US.

  2. New Internet Radio's automatically change format to whatever the broadcaster is using

  3. New Internet Radio's automatically change format to whatever the broadcaster is using


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