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back to article BMW offers in-car streaming music for cross-Europe road trips

BMW is to offer access to Brit streaming music service Rara in its new Series 5 motors. Is this the beginning of the end for broadcast radio? What's unusual and interesting about the deal is that it includes 3G access to the music - via Vodafone's mobile network - across Europe. So, wherever you can get a signal, you can get …

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TuneIn makes more sense.

I already use it in the mornings for Radio4 here in France.

The trans-EU 3G data makes good sense. But it all depends on how much BM's annual fee is.

A step in the right direction.

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Anonymous Coward

Why when Radio is already free?

I just dont get it.

Any data dongle can stilll do that and beam it into the stereo system !

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Re: Why when Radio is already free?

>I just dont get it. Any data dongle can stilll do that and beam it into the stereo system !

Answered in the article:

"you can get Rara's music catalogue and playlists, without any extra charges - particularly roaming charges - or extra cables or devices. "

If you used a dongle without being careful, you could arrive home to a massive roaming phone bill. Whilst you can stream to your car stereo with extra devices, it is not as convenient as having it integrated with the car - both for ease of use (safety) and connection to the car's aerial.

I've been hoping that this is the way things are going - so we can all forget about DAB.

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Re: Why when Radio is already free?

What's so bad about DAB?

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Re: Why when Radio is already free?

>What's so bad about DAB?

- Batteries in portable DAB radios don't last very long

-The codec used in DAB doesn't sound very nice

-In areas of poorer reception, the sound of DAB breaks up in a way that is more unpleasant than poor FM

- It is fragmented across countries

- The price of DAB receivers has never come anywhere close to that of FM radios.

Since current DAB adoption is currently poor, we may as well skip it and adopt streaming of radio content: The sound quality can be better, and it offers thousands of stations, not just dozens. We are not all at that stage yet, but we might be close in a few years.

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great idea, one small problem. how is a flat fee of £300 going to pay for the costs to BMW? The roaming charges alone for a days use would be more than that. They must have done the math, but unlimited 3g roaming streaming sounds mighty expensive

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They're only using Vodafone, whether it's roaming or not, is up to them. Presumably, a deal has been done so that it's not considered roaming.

This is interesting, because if the SIM in the BMW can talk to "Vodafone", instead of "Vodafone UK", "Vodafone Portugal", "Vodafone Deutschland", etc. then why can't a SIM in a handset do the same?

One of the networks is eventually going to figure that it might make sense to have one identity across Europe, and do away with the concept of roaming, at least within the continent.

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>great idea, one small problem. how is a flat fee of £300 going to pay for the costs to BMW? The roaming charges alone for a days use would be more than that.

From the article:

"What's unusual and interesting about the deal is that it includes 3G access to the music - via Vodafone's mobile network - across Europe"

So, one assumes that BMW have made a deal with Vodaphone... and Vodaphone would rather make some money from this system than make no money at all (which is what would happen if they insisted on their usual roaming fees - since nobody would then bother with it). Since it is tied to one service (music) it is not 'cannibalising' the data tariffs they sell for phones.

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Anonymous Coward

"They're only using Vodafone, whether it's roaming or not, is up to them. Presumably, a deal has been done so that it's not considered roaming.

This is interesting, because if the SIM in the BMW can talk to "Vodafone", instead of "Vodafone UK", "Vodafone Portugal", "Vodafone Deutschland", etc. then why can't a SIM in a handset do the same?

One of the networks is eventually going to figure that it might make sense to have one identity across Europe, and do away with the concept of roaming, at least within the continent."

One small problem, "We" don't want to be part of Europe!

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Anonymous Coward

WOW

*splutter* HOW MUCH ?!?!!

So you pay the equivalent of getting a DAB (or equivalent) up front, then continue paying through the nose every year thereafter.

Only those for whom '(money > sense) == true', methinks.

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So ....

That would be your typical BMW driver?

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FAIL

Re: WOW

DAB only works in the UK.

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Re: WOW

>Only those for whom '(money > sense) == true', methinks.

Maybe, but then they have already paid thousands of pounds more for a car than they strictly have to... so one assumes they won't miss the money. Then imagine how much they have spent on their home HiFi system...

I f paying a couple of hundred for DAB and getting a few dozen more stations (not necessarily in your language or to your taste) is justifiable, how is then spending an extra few hundred for hundreds of streamed stations a sign of idiocy?

(My car- not a BMW- is the one with the the £50 Lidl stereo, featuring an SD card and USB port, line in, FM radio and CD player - the latter never used. Loads of albums on the SD card, the USB socket is ideal for charging my phone since the fag lighter socket is playing up. Line in for when I really want to stream a podcast from my phone. Sorry - I just wanted to mention something that was modestly priced, useful and good at what it does)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WOW

And every so often it will lose signal and instead of just carrying on when you emerge from the tunnel (or wherever), the driver will have to faff around trying to get the song playing again.

Which will probably lead to a crash.

So you have to factor in your insurance costs rocketing too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WOW

You're implying that BMW drivers look at the road for any period of time normally, at fact not backed up by real world experience.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WOW

>And every so often it will lose signal and instead of just carrying on when you emerge from the tunnel (or wherever), the driver will have to faff around trying to get the song playing again.

Buffering, you've heard of it?

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Devil

Another retarded music service begging for an audience, fools and their money...

I cannot help but stand back and marvel at the magnificently moronic marketing mavens who come up with such elegantly retarded schemes.

Okay, so cellular telephony (of any generation) already has a bandwidth issue and these idiots want to use that to stream music to 5 series Beemer owners (already some of the most fatuous posers known to humanity) AT NO DATA RATE CHARGE (When they could AFFORD to pay for that).

Now all said and done the subcription charge is 3 times what Sirius/XM satellite radio is here in the US and there is nothing on the new service (besides owner targeted advertising and location tracking) that cannot already be delivered by satellite radio.

Why not provide REAL VALUE and offer a straight 3G/4G INTERNET CONNECTION with no roaming or data rate charges that would let you use multiple streaming services AND have in car WIFI hotspot capability, telephony, etc etc etc??????????

Nooooo, that would make too much sense. As to "digital radio" again this is ONLY a plot to take away simple terrestrial radio, let's take a mature product, put a new name on it, fuck up the signal quality so it sucks so bad we can sell them on shit that works even worse.

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Re: Another retarded music service begging for an audience, fools and their money...

>Why not provide REAL VALUE and offer a straight 3G/4G INTERNET CONNECTION with no roaming or data rate charges that would let you use multiple streaming services AND have in car WIFI hotspot capability, telephony, etc etc etc??????????

Because that would impact on sales of traditional phone-based data tariffs. What makes this deal acceptable to Vodaphone is that it is tied to one specific service- the customer will still be paying a separate bill to Vodaphone (or a competing network) for their phone's data allowance for email and internet browsing etc.

>Nooooo, that would make too much sense. As to "digital radio" again this is ONLY a plot to take away simple terrestrial radio, let's take a mature product, put a new name on it, fuck up the signal quality so it sucks so bad we can sell them on shit that works even worse.

Which is exactly why I welcome this product as a step in the right direction - with luck, music streaming will, in time, render DAB obsolete, and maybe we will be allowed to keep FM. I like FM, the equipment is reliable and batteries in a portable radio last for weeks.

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Free tracking software

"The BMWs will have an embedded SIM in the head unit."

So presumably, you will be able to track the SIM using one of the many mobile tracking services available on the web?

Very handy if your motor gets nicked or you don't trust your other half...

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Re: Free tracking software

I believe BMW already have embedded SIMs to support services like the automatic emergency call if you crash, and the real-time traffic data - both these services have access to a data connection which does not rely on the driver's handset, so presumably there must be an integrated 3G connection with the associated SIM. (And hence the annual charge for access to the services after the first few years.)

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Embedded SIM

There's been an integrated SIM and 3G connection for at least the past five years. You can use it to browse the Internet, as long as the car is stationary and you're very, very patient. Entering text using the iDrive's twiddle/press interface is dire. You can also send a location from Google Maps to your car's satnav.

The traffic data, I think, is supplied through a radio link. It's certainly available on satnavs that don't have a 3G data connection.

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I'd rather have

A stereo with a bit of flash memory built into it and the capability to connect it to my home wifi when parking in my garage. No data roaming (or indeed connection) needed then, just sync up x GB of music and off we go, taking all my music with me.

It sounds like a solution looking for a problem.

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Ogi

Not a bad idea, but not for me.

I never actually bothered hooking up the radio antenna in my car, everything is streamed from my phone to the AUX IN.

It is quite nice, especially when I tour Europe. However Why would I get this, when there are cheaper options.

With the exception of non-EU countries (like when I went through Swizerland) roaming costs are capped by the EU. As such my T-mobile roaming bill was insignificant, and I could stream throughout the road trip with no issues (well, signal issues around the mountains, but that is a different problem).

Another alternative is to buy a local SIM card. Pre-pay ones that include internet can be got, and some require no info from you apart from your name, while others will ask for ID to prove you are a EU citizen, but then you can top up and roam locally.

However this:

* is limited to one car (I can take my phone out, stick earphones in and stream from the beach),

* you can't change provider (what if Vodafone decides this isn't worth it, and cans the service?)

* What happens when you sell the car on?

* Will this always be available, or will it say, stop working after 5-10 years (like those old mobile phones that came built in as optional extras during the 90's, which are now paperweights in second hand cars).

* You can't transfer it to another car (unless it is also a BMW)

* What happens if a new format comes out, or a new streaming service, will there be upgrades? Will they be free?

If you really wanted to go this route, it would make more sense to make it as a standard DIN head unit, which you can then stick a SIM card in, and it will use the data connection to stream whatever you want.

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Anonymous Coward

Not to worry

No need to worry about the costs of roaming and the burden on the mobile networks, this will only be useful when sitting in the car on your drive.

The moment anyone drives off they will be in the hands of our shocking mobile networks coverage that struggle to "stream" a phone call let alone hold on to a 3G connection to stream data for more than 2 secs!

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The French...

... will of course enforce the streaming of at least 70% French language songs. The other 30% will be a mixture of early Elvis, Buddy Holly, Englebert Humperdink and Nana Moussaka records with a sprinkling of Ricky Martin cover songs dubbed into French.

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Re: The French...

but I LIKE Nana Moussaka!

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I already use spotify in the car over 3G and play all my music in the car. I also use my iPhone for radiographer than the cars inbuilt radio.

It won't be long b4 radio stations will go all to a online stream and cars pick up the signal over 3G lte.

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FAIL

My method

Buy an ipod or mp3 player with a large drive in it or micro SD slot with the money, download a load of gigs of music from newsgroups etc......

Create playlists for it.

There done, after all most new cars have either a USB port or a lighter socket plus an auxiliary in or Bluetooth on the radio now.....

Added bonus...........when you get out the car your music goes with you....

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Re: My method

The problem with this solution is that you have to fiddle with the MP3 player to select music. A service that streams on demand, or an integrated media player, allows you to use the head unit controls and screen, which is a bit safer.

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Re: My method

Works for me...Cowon X7, 160 GB disk and all my music on it - and superb sound quality.

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here I was thinking why aren't they using satelite radio?

Then I did some googling and see that it doesn't seem like XM has any coverage in Europe (not aware of any other companies)

I'm one of those fools who doesn't mind listening to the same songs over and over. I have a 16G USB stick in my car stereo and that's all I use(I may add more songs to it once or twice a year).

Never once turned the radio on(well other than to try to get special traffic alerts when I see a sign on the side of the road that says "TUNE TO XXX FOR SPECIAL INFO". Never tried satellite radio (XM keeps sending me fliers to try it for free - my car came with a free trial though never used it).

As you might expect I rarely get exposed to new music.

I haven't seriously listened to radio since I was a kid in 1989 (I remember specifically because I moved to Asia for several years after that), or sometimes in rental cars when traveling.

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Pint

Re: here I was thinking why aren't they using satelite radio?

Because SCIENCE!

Why XM/Sirius specifically won't work: there are four XM vehicles at 115W and 85W, three Sirius vehicles in elliptical orbits covering the western hemisphere, and one geosynchronous vehicle that serves both systems. None of these satellites are visible from Europe.

As for why existing satellite radio services won't work in your car: the American services (two now merged into one) use S-band, and receiving that in your car is easy if the bird is visible. The European satellite radio services transmit in the Ku band; a car-mounted antenna would need to be electronically-steered. ESA has done research into such antennas and built prototypes, but they're not yet commercially available (at least at a price you'd want to pay).

Beer, because two-line ephemerides make me thirsty.

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Anonymous Coward

the biggest possible issue here...

is the uselnessness of Vodafone's 3G network, particularly in the UK where they have less 3G coverage than any other network and even where they do have coverage it's quite often slow to the point of being unusable...

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The only thing wrong with radio

The only thing wrong with radio is the idiot owners. It certainly isn't for lack of good content.

But the radio industry is so bassackwards they will ALL have to go out of business before the revival/renaissance begins.

Until then, my low tech CDs work just fine. The rest is stupid complexity for the sake of "hipness".

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I'd rather just choose my own service such as internet radio. I already use my old iPhone 4 over bluetooth to Audi A8 and the sound is far better than you would expect.

The icing would be if you could install car-optimised apps on the MMI of a car, or maybe some way of controlling phone from car controls for certain apps.

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WTF?

Another white elephant in the dash!

Amazing. Sounds just like a deal the tired and incapable marketing teams at Ford or GM would cook up, with a network provider desperate to sell unused bandwidth.

If BMW marketers knew wtf they were doing, they'd buy the cellular multicast bandwidth wholesale and have a team of smart young things deliver streaming radio services at half the cost all over Europe.

Then, when the marketing boffins come across other value-adds like maps, 'find my bmw' or 'track my stolen car' or 'sell their location, driving habits, web-browsing, accident data, etc. to any number of big data, they'd be able to do it at no further investment. And they could keep customers happy with online upgrades, new features.

Or when warranty dept accountants figure out that there are mobile networks all over the world that can report diagnostics details in real-time back to the service dept (they might even bother centralising things and send the data back to R&D to actually improve customer experience, design and production based with all that real world information).

But no, they chose to let the network operator gate the data AND In their implementation paid through the nose to embed the network SIM and software in a special purpose device instead of using an existing commodity like raspberry Pi or Android.

What a loss: The car's computers could even have online updates delivered on the go using tech like this. And if they wanted to do something really cool they could build real apps into the unit so customers could have their calendars, prefs, purchased media, etc all there as they drive, (instead of half of it on their phone in their back pocket) - as they in dash unit would sync when the car gets close enough to home to connect via Bluetooth, XBase-T or Wi-Fi (if they should want to)

Of course the competition will nail these jokers by commoditising their 'new features' the bad old way;

SE Asian manufacturers will just embed a holder and antennae in their (copied version of a BMW) to fit a better screen and system (commodity tablet) and partner with any one of a zillion app providers and networks to offer full service, roaming, streaming media to more than just Europe.

Remember, not all innovations are good, some kill off good products and companies bit by bit every day. These kind of in-dash units are white elephants; they just end up driving down resale values.

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author has good taste

Pat Metheny - great taste in music exhibited by the author.

Nice!

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Poor man's Radio 4 solution

Put an O2 pay as you go SIM into a smartphone. Subscribe to one of the stream compression sites or apps and access a 24 kbps Radio 4 mono stream (surprisingly acceptable for speech).

For £2 you will get 25 MB or about 2 hours 20 mins streaming, the SIM covers a vast area of the EU inc Switzerland. If the R4 content is particularly gripping, you can top up again the same day.

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Happy

Re: Poor man's Radio 4 solution

Or... spend £20 on a shortwave radio receiver, and use line-in to your car stereo to listen to BBC World Service... has many of the same current affairs and documentary output of Radio 4, but without the R4 cruft.

Just a thought!

If you want spoken-word content, and don't mind 'loading up' before you set off on your travels, you could do worse than download MP3s (at around 25MB/hour) from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/ (the 'Australian Radio4' but not as smug - 'The Science Show' and 'Late Night Live' being particularly good. ) Or maybe you haven't exhausted the In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg yet? : D

Thank you for bringing these stream-compression services to our attention!

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it's not spelt rara

it's spelt rah rah, dahling

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FAIL

Thats nice

But when will they get around to fitting in Fitting indicators on the front of the cars? Or have BMW drivers have a fancy bit of kit they tells other BMW drivers which exit they are taking on a roundabout or exactly when they are planning on cutting you up?

Can they also fix the curvature in the windscreens that leads them to think the car in front is a good few yards further away than it really is, it’s quite dangerous having them always sit inches away from your rear end at 70mph, these are all even bigger issue's with their 4x4 series, usually the white ones on the school run.

Once they figure out how to fix these problems can they tell the guys at Audi as well?

These are problems that need to be dealt with, and don’t tell me they don’t exist, otherwise the only other explanation is that the majority or people that drive these cars are pricks…

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