The BBC is working on the development of a new generation of hybrid radio with international partners in Europe, America and Australia.
New research commissioned by the BBC shows the majority of smartphone users want radio in their devices but have concerns around mobile data costs, battery use and reception issues when using streamed audio services.
The BBC is working with UK commercial radio, the EBU, Clearchannel, Ibiquity, Emmis Interactive, NAB and Commercial Radio Australia. Together they will research and develop a new radio unit which combines internet and broadcast (DAB or FM) radio – for use in mobile phones.
The research showed that people would value hybrid radio which brings together the strengths of broadcast radio – free-to-receive, robust reception and reliability – with the digital enhancements and interactivity of internet radio.
Nearly two thirds of the mobile phone owners surveyed found the idea of hybrid radio appealing and said it could be a deciding factor when faced with a choice between phones with similar specs.
Better reception coverage, longer battery life and reduced mobile data costs were recognised as key benefits for hybrid radio in mobile devices and would make a tangible difference to listening whilst on the move or in the car.
The coalition – under the banner of the Universal Smartphone Radio Project – has been discussing hybrid radio with mobile and technology manufacturers, and how to build the functionality into handsets.
Helen Boaden, Director of BBC Radio, said: “There is an enduring love for radio and easy listening on the move is critical for this. This UK-led global partnership is a response to listeners’ demand for simple, charge-free radio in mobile phones.”