Friday, January 26, 2007

Backward Into the Future

I recently spent 5 days without Broadband service. Luckily I still have my old Friend “Dial-up” as a back up. This gave me an opportunity to see how Media websites performed for those without access to High Speed Internet connections.

The answer is: not very well.

Streaming audio did not work on fully 50% of the radio station websites that I visited.

3 seconds of audio--buffer for 10 seconds--4 seconds of audio--8 seconds buffer--etc.

This was extremely frustrating. It also doesn’t have to be like that. If half the stations streaming are Backwards compatible, then the other half should be as well. Talk to your Internet people and make sure that your stream will work for your listeners who do not have Broadband connections.

How many of them are there? The latest research shows that 50% of households still use dial-up. Even among “Active” Internet users, only 78.5% have Broadband connections. While that is a pretty decent figure, it still means that over 20% of the your most active Internet users still don’t have High Speed connections.(see report) DSLReports reports that there are areas within the United States that have little or no broadband coverage. One reader reports on an area in Virginia near a mountain that lacks even satellite access., Jan. 20, 2007.

Do not write off “dial up listeners”. You never know which one has an Arbitron diary. As a test, you might want to use a dial up connection and see how your Radio Station web site measures up when you are not using Broadband. It may surprise you at how frustrating and exclusionary it is.


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