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BBC blocking access to Internet radio streams on mobiles

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  • Message 1. Posted by digitalradiotech (U4838674) on Wednesday, 10th June 2009 permalink

    James,

    Could you enlighten me as to why the BBC makes it as difficult as possible for users to access the BBC's Internet radio streams on smartphones?

    Could this have anything to do with the following quote made by your boss, Mark Friend:

    “We have to get Nokia to put DAB in (to mobile phones), to get to a point where it’s viable. We have to make the switch away from analogue. Nokia has political reasons they haven’t put DAB in yet - now that things have changed a bit, it’s time to have another push.”

    i.e. the BBC is deliberately making it as difficult as possible for users to access its Internet radio streams because the BBC wants Nokia (et al) to add DAB to their mobile phones?

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  • Message 2. Posted by drhowells (U8852041) on Wednesday, 10th June 2009 permalink

    What is difficult? I just installed the BBC Live TV widget on my Nokia N96 and all of the BBC TV and Radio chanels are there.... I think the BBC have done a great job releasing such a simple to use tool.

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  • Message 3. Posted by drhowells (U8852041) on Wednesday, 10th June 2009 permalink

    You can access the TV and Radio channels here:

    www.bbc.co.uk/mobile...

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  • Message 4. Posted by digitalradiotech (U4838674) on Wednesday, 10th June 2009 permalink

    That link sends you to a page that says:

    "BBC Live TV/Radio is designed to be used over a WiFi connection only"

    That proves the point I was making, because that message is an attempt by the BBC to stop people accessing the Internet radio streams via 3G or mobile broadband. Remember that the vast majority of the population aren't very technically minded, so the vast majority of people will see that and think that the live Internet radio streams have to be accessed via Wi-Fi, which is utter nonsense - Internet streams are Internet streams, and they're equally receivable via Wi-Fi or 3G or mobile broadband.

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  • Message 5. Posted by drhowells (U8852041) on Wednesday, 10th June 2009 permalink

    Yes an internet stream is available via 3G, but you have to pay considerably more money if you go over your data limit with your mobile network provider. Like you said, a lot of people aren't technically minded and may listen over 3G, not realising that it could cost them so much. This could raise complaints with the BBC, so they are damned if they do and damned if they don't....

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  • Message 6. Posted by digitalradiotech (U4838674) on Wednesday, 10th June 2009 permalink

    The message clearly states that these streams are ONLY meant to be received via Wi-Fi, so what you're saying doesn't come into it, because people are told from the outset that these streams aren't for use via 3G or mobile broadband.

    If the BBC wants to display a message telling people that receiving these streams via 3G on a mobile phone might lead to them exceeding their download allowance then fine, but that is a million miles away from the message being displayed at the moment.

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  • Message 7. Posted by The Phazer (U815970) on Wednesday, 10th June 2009 permalink

    If the BBC wants to display a message telling people that receiving these streams via 3G on a mobile phone might lead to them exceeding their download allowance then fine, but that is a million miles away from the message being displayed at the moment.


    Several UK providers block them on a network level anyway.

    O2 certainly does, since you're not allowed to stream any media over their 3G network contractually anyway.

    Phazer

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  • Message 8. Posted by digitalradiotech (U4838674) on Wednesday, 10th June 2009 permalink

    3 definitely allows people to access media streams via its mobile Internet access, so on that basis alone the BBC is unjustified in displaying the message it does.

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  • Message 9. Posted by musky_octopus (U14027720) on Wednesday, 10th June 2009 permalink

    I'd like to add my voice to this. I used to enjoy listening to streamed programmes from Listen Again on my Nokia S60 phone, over 3G. Recently when I try I get to them I get an iPlayer window with the message 'Please first install Real Player' - Real Player is already installed on my phone. My phone, a 6220C is also perfectly capable of using iPlayer as well, but that's a different story.

    I'd assumed it was cock-up rather than conspiracy. Navigating the R4 site on my phone was never the most mobile-friendly experience, so I just thought that the browser-checking was broken with this new problem. If it is deliberate, then it needs to stop - I've got an unlimited data plan, but regardless of that it's up to me to choose what I download on my phone.

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  • Message 10. Posted by Jon Billings - BBC (U14029331) on Thursday, 11th June 2009 permalink

    Hi - I've prepared below an explanation and chronology of our evolving practices with respect to streaming on mobile networks. I hope it clears up some of the confusion.

    So: We tried interstitial/popup warnings about data costs on mobile quite extensively during the Euros and Olympics last year. The outcome was quite dissapointing in that the warnings were so effective that we had no audience (number of concurrent stream peaks were in single figures!). So that lead us to a policy of wanting to offer service only where we could be sure there wouldn't be significant 'bill shock', and so avoid the scary warning messaqes.

    Our first attempt at that in summer last year was the mobile TV/Radio service www.bbc.co.uk/mobile... which is WiFi only, because at that time we had no mechanism to determine when users were safe from billshock over 3G.

    When we launched mobile iPlayer for N96 in October last year (and a succession of devices since) we had developed a mechanism to be sure of contract Vodafone customers (not PAYG) and 3 customers.

    Later this summer, I hope & expect we'll be able to update the mobile iPlayer offering to allow streaming over all mobile networks (where the network allows it, as noted elsewhere on this thread).

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  • Message 11. Posted by digitalradiotech (U4838674) on Thursday, 11th June 2009 permalink

    My issue is about the fact that the BBC blocks access to the live Internet radio streams. For example, the link you provided is to what you refer to as being "Wi-Fi only" streams, but Internet streams are Internet streams, so there is no such thing as a stream only being accessible via Wi-Fi -- that is simply the BBC wanting to block access to these streams to mobile users who can't receive them via Wi-Fi.

    The only thing you've said will change in future regarding access is that more networks will be able to access the streams via the iPlayer widget. But judging by comments left on BBC Internet blogs about the iPlayer, I think there's widespread opposition to the BBC limiting access to its streams to just those handsets that can use the iPlayer widget, so what are you going to do about making the BBC's streams more accessible on all handsets?

    As things stand the BBC's Internet radio streams are highly inaccessible on mobiles, and considering that Mark Friend, the BBC Controller in charge of digital radio, said recently that he was desperate to get DAB integrated into Nokia mobiles, and also considering that the BBC in general is extremely biased towards DAB and against Internet radio, IMO this is just another example of the BBC taking decisions to suit its own pro-DAB agenda but which are against the interests of licence-fee payers.

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  • Message 12. Posted by drhowells (U8852041) on Thursday, 11th June 2009 permalink

    I really don't why you are commenting on this forum. Whatever a BBC representative says, you will just argue against it because you believe you are right and they are wrong...

    And I really wish you stop saying "Internet Radio is highly inaccesible on mobiles"... it is as easy as opening an application on the phone (or clicking on a link) and selecting the radio station. WHY IS THAT HARD!!!

    Am I the only one who can understand why some of the services are WiFi only? I would hate to get a shock when I looked at my mobile bill and saw the price of the data I had used... Mobile networks are improving data prices and usage amounts all the time, so I am sure it will become viable very soon, but there are still some issues. Currently most 'unlimited' data plans still have fair use limits and they are not that high....

    Some of your threads have almost felt like a personal attack on the beeb and James in particular and I think they have been quite patient with your multiple posts.

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  • Message 13. Posted by digitalradiotech (U4838674) on Thursday, 11th June 2009 permalink

    I really don't why you are commenting on this forum. Whatever a BBC representative says, you will just argue against it because you believe you are right and they are wrong...


    I am not arguing with anybody, I am merely stating my point of view.

    And I really wish you stop saying "Internet Radio is highly inaccesible on mobiles"... it is as easy as opening an application on the phone (or clicking on a link) and selecting the radio station. WHY IS THAT HARD!!!


    You're looking at this from a Nokia N96 owner's perspective - i.e. an owner of one of the handful of handsets that has the iPlayer widget pre-installed, so it is easy for *you* to access the BBC's streams. The other 95% of the population aren't so lucky.

    Am I the only one who can understand why some of the services are WiFi only?


    If someone has paid for mobile Internet access, they don't want the BBC to block access to their TV and radio streams.

    Some of your threads have almost felt like a personal attack on the beeb and James in particular and I think they have been quite patient with your multiple posts.<./quote>

    I'm glad you used the word "almost", because I totally dispute that I've made any personal attacks against anybody. And regarding being patient, the launch of the BBC's higher quality live Internet radio streams have been delayed by an entire year, so I think myself and the rest of the general public have been patient with the BBC rather than the other way round.

    Nothing that I say is personal at all - it's purely down to whether the BBC is making correct technical decisions or not, and where the BBC is making mistakes I make constructive criticisms to help them correct these mistakes.

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  • Message 14. Posted by Grabthar (U14031966) on Friday, 12th June 2009 permalink

    For months I enjoyed listening to Radio4 through the rtsp stream on my mobile but now I can't. Auntie Beeb has decided I'm not mature enough to know what I can or can't afford. Oddly, though, she is still happy for me to download many Megabytes of podcasts straight to my mobile. I conclude that this 3G issue is not one of BBC policy - different decisions are being made by different BBC departments.

    The BBC has, over the decades, been fantastic at innovation - FM stereo, colour TV and now digital TV etc. Each of the past innovations required consumers to spend money to enjoy the new services and the BBC didn't hold back because of "billshock". 3G is no different. 3G has already become a mainstream way of gaining Internet access - phone shops are replete with high-end phones, dongles and data deals.

    When I first listened to the BBC it was through a wireless that required a mains supply and long aerial wire. Then along came the portable transistor radio and it was truly wireless. 3G is the new wireless technology and it's lovely not being encumbered by fixed lines and mains supplies.

    Come on Auntie, don't turn back the technology clock just because some people don't understand the running costs of the gadgets they've bought. That attitude would have killed many of the BBC's previous advances and the Corporation wouldn't have become the success it is today.

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  • Message 15. Posted by digitalradiotech (U4838674) on Saturday, 13th June 2009 permalink

    Excellent point about the fact that they allow people to download many MB podcast files but they block access to their live streams.

    This is basically another example of the BBC's bias towards DAB and its bias against Internet radio. The BBC Controller in charge of digital radio said recently that he's desperate to get DAB included on Nokia mobiles, so what a surprise that he doesn't want to allow people to access Internet radio via mobiles.

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  • Message 16. Posted by musky_octopus (U14027720) on Wednesday, 17th June 2009 permalink

    Thanks for the explanation, jonbill - I still don't buy it though.

    I was reading this (www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/... which wound me up even more. So you *can* offer streamed broadcasts (but no archived radio), but only to certain networks and a narrow range of devices. I've got a Nokia 6220 on 3, so my network's right but my phone isn't - regardless of the fact that my phone is perfectly capable of the task, and the only thing stopping it is the BBC's rather arbitrary choice of handsets.

    You seem to be bundling TV streaming in with radio streaming and then cutting off access based on data size - I can understand the problems with giving unfettered access to streamed TV over 3G, but radio is a different matter. I'm now in the position where I can't listen to the R4 programmes I used to listen to, unless they're in the small list of shows released as podcasts - in which case I download them using my phone's unlimited data plan, over 3G.

    I appreciate you replying to this forum and I'm not having a go at you personally, but what's irking me the most with this issue is that it used to work fine, until the BBC flicked the 'off' switch.

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  • Message 17. Posted by JoeChip (U13759661) on Thursday, 18th June 2009 permalink

    Listening to BBC R5LI on my Samsung Omnia phone here in the USA right now ... seems to work for me ...

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  • Message 18. Posted by Grabthar (U14031966) on Friday, 26th June 2009 permalink

    I tried the streaming link on my mobile yesterday and IT WORKED. My thanks to the BBC staff involved for re-enabling 3G radio streaming.

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