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BBC looks to develop ‘hybrid’ radio to allow mobile users to listen without the internet

The BBC is one of the companies looking to develop a ‘hybrid’ radio for mobile phones, which will combine the strengths of broadcast radio - free-to-receive, robust reception and reliability - with the digital enhancements and interactivity of internet radio.

New research commissioned by the BBC shows the majority of smartphone users want to use radio in their devices but have worries around mobile data costs, battery use and reception issues when using streamed audio services.

UK commercial radio, the EBU, Clearchannel, Ibiquity, Emmis Interactive, NAB and Commercial Radio Australia are working together to help develop the hybrid radio system.

The coalition, named 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.”

Longer battery life, better reception and reduced mobile data costs are set to be some of the benefits from hybrid radio.