AOL Debuts Broadband Radio Service


America Online Inc. is giving its broadband customers a musical front-row seat with its debut of an exclusive radio service.

"Broadband Radio@AOL" went live Monday, offering CD-quality, commercial-free Internet-radio stations along with music-information links, music videos, concert-ticket and CD sales, event information and fan chat rooms.

"It's the first of a couple of 'only-on-AOL Broadband' products we have launched, which wholly are designed from the ground floor to really optimize the nature of a high-speed connection," said Shawn Hardin, senior vice president of programming for AOL Broadband.

"It's the first product that we have actually launched as a company that is literally inoperable on dial-up and takes maximum advantage of the additional bandwidth the pipe delivers, as well as the always-on nature," Hardin added.

Broadband Radio@AOL offers 125-plus radio stations, ranging from in-house AOL channels covering a range of music genres to live streams from terrestrial radio outlets such as AP News, KCRW, WDST, WOXY, KPIG and WFMU.

On the AOL channels, celebrity DJs including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Faith Hill, Britney Spears and James Taylor introduce the tunes.

AOL users access the content courtesy of AOL's proprietary Ultravox media player, which comes with the AOL 8.0 software. The streaming-media platform, combining codecs and server software, cuts down on streaming buffer delays and allows almost-instant channel-change ability, Hardin said.

The Broadband Radio offering is part of AOL's attempt to shift its focus from advertising to content value.
The struggling Internet-service provider -- which has seen a leadership house-cleaning in the past year -- is set to announce an overall broadband strategy Dec. 3.