Okay, this is not really about networking or IU, but I thought it was pretty cool so I figured I'd share it with all of you (which hopefully includes a few more people than I've already told this to in person). *AND* it did involve 1 piece of network equipment owned by IU, so....
Like many people, I'm amazed by many of the 3rd party applications for the iPhone. I was very busy preparing for the Joint Techs workshop last week, so I didn't have much time to "play" with all the new applications for my iPhone. I did, however, download the AOL Radio application a couple of days before leaving for Lincoln. It worked fairly well and I quickly thought it would be quite cool if I could use it in my car while driving ! I'm too cheap to pay for satellite radio, so the idea of being able to listen to radio stations from all over the country in my car caught my eye !
Of course, the first thing I thought was *DOH* - what about that darn GSM interference ? All that buzzing and popping coming through the radio from the streaming audio over the EDGE network wouldn't do. Luckily, I've been testing a Linksys Mobile Broadband router with a Sprint EV-DO card. So I could plug this into the power outlet in my trunk and connect my iPhone to it via Wifi. Note: with iPhone 2.0 release, you can put the iPhone in "airplane mode" - shutting down the cellular radio - and then enable the Wifi radio :) Problem #1 solved ! BTW- I've been told that HSDPA (AT&T's 3G technology) does not have the same interference issues, but alas I don't have one to test with :-(
The next problem was that Sprint doesn't have 3G in Bloomington yet. So how well would this work over the "slow-as molasses" 1xRTT network ?
Before I left for the airport, I tossed the Linksys into my trunk (not literally) and plugged into the power outlet. I dropped (again not literally) my iphone into the dock in my car and headed out. Shortly after I passed the Bloomington bypass on highway 37, I fired up AOL Radio to see what would happen. The station started, but the audio was in and out, stopping and starting --- unusable :-( I turned it off and went back to listening to a podcast. When I reached Martinsville - safely within Sprint's EV-DO coverage - I tried it again -- tuning into the Jack FM station in Chicago. This time it worked fairly well. Every few minutes there would be a short audio drop as it rebuffered, but all-in-all it worked reasonably well.
While I was in Lincoln, I had some free time to play my iPhone. I downloaded a bunch of 3rd party apps include Pandora. For those of you who haven't used Pandora, it's a personal radio station application. You pick an artist and they select songs from that artist and other similar artists. You can give songs a thumbs up or thumbs down and it supposedly adjusts to your tastes.
While in Lincoln, I used Pandora over the EDGE network from my hotel room and walking around town. I was amazed by how well it worked over the EDGE network. Excellent sound quality and almost no rebuffering. I couldn't wait to try it out on the drive home from the airport.
So, last Thursday night while driving home from the airport I tried it out. Amazing ! The quality over both EV-DO and 1xRTT networks was excellent ! Presumably it would be just as good using the cellular radio internal to the iPhone - assuming there wasn't a GSM interference issue. I've been using it for the past several days and have been amazed at how well it works - even down by my house in the southern part of the county where there are definitely some dead spots !
If I ran a satellite radio company, I'd definitely be paying attention to this. It seems to me the major cost for the satellite radio companies is transport - ie getting the signal from the head-end to the users. The reason people want satellite radio is the large selection of content that is available anywhere - not just within your local broadcast area. Exchanging satellite transport for IP transport (either over wired or wireless networks) could drastically reduce their costs and increase their availability - ie you can get IP-based connection in places you can't easily get satellite - like in basements !