Digital radio vs streaming – what’s the difference?

5 September 2016

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Consumers have more choice in the way they listen to radio than ever before.  You can tune in to your favourite stations broadcast through your kitchen radio, multi-room soundbar or portable radio or, when connected, you can stream radio via your computer or mobile device.

Often the same device, such as those in newer in-car entertainment systems or internet radios, offer a choice of listening via AM/FM, broadcast DAB+ digital radio or streaming.  So what’s the difference?

While streaming is growing in popularity, the majority of radio listening - well over 90% - is done via a broadcast device due to the robustness and reliability of the signal and the fact it's free to air.

Broadcast DAB+ is an upgrade on AM/FM radio. It provides great sound, is very easy to use and offers a wide choice of extra stations.  These range from classic rock to chillout tunes, children’s programming, country music and dance stations.
Streamed radio connects to web-based stations over your broadband connection and can be accessed via apps, websites or internet radios.
Here are some of the features of both:


 DAB+ digital radio

 Streamed radio

 How  does it  work?

 Digital radio is transmitted using digital signals instead of      analogue (AM/FM), providing superior audio and added features to  your listening experience

 Internet radio connects to broadcasters via a  broadband connection

 Stations  available 

 Your favourite local stations plus up to 30 free digital-only radio    stations

 Local stations and thousands of stations from  around the world


 Broadcast is free to air but does require a DAB+ radio or device

 Streaming and data charges apply. Requires a  connected device such as a computer,  internet  radio or mobile

 Where  can you  get it?

 DAB+ currently covers 65% of the population, with services in  Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.  DAB+ trials  are  on air in Canberra and Darwin 

 Where you have a good internet connection,  mobile (3G/4G) connectivity or Wi-Fi wireless  networking

 In the car

 30% of new cars in Australia come with DAB+ installed and after-  market adaptors are available 

 Streaming radio in the car is an option when  the  car has Bluetooth connectivity or via a  USB  cable from your phone

 Other  features

 Easy to set up and use, does not buffer or get congested

 To find a station, use an app or website. Can  drop out in mobile blackspots or when network  is congested

In conclusion, DAB+ is free and reliable, and doesn’t use your data like streaming does, so it’s a good choice if you mainly listen to local radio. Streaming offers a convenient way to access radio through any computer, tablet or mobile device.

DAB+ and streaming are complementary technologies and make it easy for listeners to tune in to radio whenever they want, using whatever device they choose.