How much data does radio streaming use

Listening to internet radio in the car: Here's how

Countless radio programs from all over the world can be received via the Internet. At home, web radio reception via WLAN radios or smart speakers has meanwhile become standard. On the go, radio reception from the World Wide Web is possible via apps on smartphones and tablets. Internet radio use in the car would also be appealing.

Many radio programs are also available via VHF and DAB + - but often not the radio station that the user would like to receive. If you are a Bavarian in Hamburg, you can currently only receive news from home on B5 via the Internet. Anyone who got to know Hitradio Ö3 while on holiday in Austria and would like to hear the station in Dortmund or Leipzig in their car, is also dependent on streaming.

Web radio in the car
Photo:, Logo: TuneIn But how do you get Internet radio into the vehicle? Very few cars have a car hi-fi system that makes it possible to receive radio programs from the World Wide Web. We'll tell you how you can receive Internet radio in your car even if your car radio is not yet designed for streaming.

Smartphone as a web radio receiver

The easiest way to receive Internet radio in the car is to use the smartphone as a receiver. The mobile phone loudspeaker is of course hardly suitable for playback in the case of background noises that inevitably occur while driving. The phone should therefore be connected to the car radio via Bluetooth or audio cable so that the web radio programs are played over the same loudspeakers that are also used by the car hi-fi system.

If the car radio has neither Bluetooth nor a line input, the connection between the smartphone and the sound system in the car can also be established via an FM transmitter. Disadvantage: The VHF scale is overcrowded in many regions and the transmission power of legal FM transmitters is severely limited. This solution should therefore only be used if neither Bluetooth nor a cable connection is available.

In principle, any web radio app can be used on the smartphone. Programs such as TuneIn Radio, which offer an auto mode, are advantageous. If this is activated, a greatly simplified menu with large symbols is available to make operation easier while driving (whereby the road traffic regulations should be observed).

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay offer more convenience

Newer vehicles are often equipped with Android Auto and / or Apple CarPlay. This allows apps that run on the smartphone to be used on the car's large display. With both systems, not all apps installed on the mobile phone are available, only offers that are suitable for use while driving. This also includes some, if not all, programs for Internet radio reception.

As a rule, the smartphone must be connected to the car hi-fi system by cable in order to use Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. Wireless services are only available in a few completely new vehicles. This in turn has the disadvantage of very high power consumption, so that the cable connection, with which the cell phone battery is also charged, is then again the better alternative.

TuneIn app in auto mode
Photo: The radio apps that can be operated via the car display in this way include, which bundles public and private German programs, TuneIn Radio and MyTuner Radio, each Have radio programs from all over the world in their portfolio, as well as more and more applications that come from the radio stations themselves. In the past few months, among others, RTL Radio, R.SA Sachsen and Antenne Bayern have optimized their own apps for car use, to name just a few examples.

Save data volume with StreamOn or Vodafone Pass

Internet radio streaming naturally consumes data volume. Listeners who use a tariff without a real data flat rate should bear this in mind. If a stream is received with a data rate of 128 kBit / s, 57.6 MB data volume is transferred per hour. That doesn't sound like much at first, but on a ten-hour trip on vacation, almost 600 MB of data is quickly lost in this way.

Many radio stations offer streams that are specially designed for mobile use. These transmit at only 56 or 64 kBit / s, but in mono or in AAC + codec instead of the MP3 format in order to still achieve an acceptable sound despite the lower data rate. The data consumption is reduced to 25.2 MB per hour at 56 kBit / s or 28.8 MB per hour at 64 kBit / s.

Telekom and Vodafone customers also have the option of booking StreamOn Music or the Vodafone Music Pass. This means that interested parties can ensure that the data volume generated during streaming does not burden the service included in the tariff. It should be noted that this only works for apps and services that are named by the network operators as partners for the zero rating.

Adjust the data rate of the stream for mobile use

Another alternative to saving data volume is to adapt the desired stream for mobile use. Basically, you could receive the station at home and set up a Shoutcast or Icecast server yourself in order to stream the program again at the desired data rate for mobile use. The effort, however, is unlikely to have a meaningful relationship to the benefit.

With PC Radio there is an app that offers this feature as standard. The developers advertise that web radio reception is also possible with slow Internet connections and that the data consumption is lower than with most conventional streams. In the free standard version, the streams are reduced to around 32 kBit / s, and those who book the ad-free Pro version have additional configuration options.

PC radio app for Android
Photo: PC radio has several disadvantages: On the one hand, the program does not work with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay and, on the other hand, it sometimes takes several months for users to record new radio stations proposed for the station database. An earlier, similar offer called Yourmuze has not been available for a few years.

The network quality is also decisive

Last but not least, the cellular network also plays an important role in mobile Internet radio reception. If you are in a dead zone or in an area in which the network used only provides GSM and GPRS / EDGE, the audio playback will drop out. Worse still: If you listen to the program of a private radio station, it can happen that the same advertising is played every time the connection to the stream is re-established, which is very annoying in the long run.

If you value good web radio reception in your car, you should therefore check which network offers the most continuous LTE reception possible in the region in which mainly streaming takes place. Before deciding on a new term contract, it is worthwhile to use prepaid cards to test which network is best suited for the desired purpose.

Some cars also have external antennas for cell phone reception, which act inductively in the area of ​​storage areas for the cell phone. If the smartphone is on this surface, the reception improves significantly. The LTE connection is more stable, which ultimately means fewer dropouts in Internet radio reception while driving.

In another message we already reported about the possibility of receiving the terrestrial digital radio DAB + in the car.