FM Radio - Free Music on Every Corner

Radio is probably one of the most popular free services. We can listen to it just everywhere. At home, at work, in the bus, in the car, while we walk, etc. With the term radio we usually mean a sound service that we can receive and is usually free, without any subscription or expensive equipment. With radio you also get free music. You can listen to it while working or you can relax and enjoy listening to your favorite band. There are many ways to get such free sound service. Each has some advantages and disadvantages but the fact is that the old FM radio as we know it is far the most widely used broadcasting service.

You can listen to radio stations that are broadcasting over internet. This service is still free, but you need access to the internet and a computer. There are also some devices (network players) that support internet broadcasting, but you still need access to the internet, either wireless (WiFi) or over local network. The advantage of internet broadcasting is that there are thousands of stations so it easy, at least in theory, to find a station that plays music according to your taste. Cable and IPTV systems also offer radio stations but this is limited to the place where you have the connection.

Satellites also offer a lot of radio stations. But to receive satellite stations you need a satellite receiver, so this type of reception is only suitable for home listening. There are also mobile satellite radio services, but in general they are not free. You have to pay a subscription. Despite the fact that satellite services are cheap and you get large coverage areas, this type of broadcasting is not suitable for general reception. Satellites do offer a huge choice of stations, but the receiving equipment is pretty complex.

Therefore, terrestrial broadcasting is the most popular platform for radio. While AM broadcasting is still used in some countries, mainly for international broadcasting, it is the FM radio that we can find it on every corner. There are many reasons for its popularity. It is free, you only need a simple and cheap receiver. Receivers are now integrated also into mobile phones, MP3 players and many other devices. The quality of FM (frequency modulation) is very high. With quality stereo reception and some high-end receiver you get superb sound quality comparable to vinyl records.

Because of many advantages of terrestrial broadcasting there are many stations interested in using this media. Of course, the radio-frequency spectrum is a limited resource and only a small fraction of the whole spectrum is allocated to broadcasting. Therefore, we can fit only a limited number of stations into this band. In addition to this, to prevent harmful interferences there are many strict rules on frequency planning which further limit the number of possible radio stations that we can receive.

But despite all the disadvantages and limitations the FM radio will be used for many years to come. Interestingly, there is still no comparable digital broadcasting system that could replace the old analog radio.