Othernet Satellite Radio

Hi guys,

Is there a reason Othernet Radio is using a fixed bitrate of 128kb/s?

From looking at the stream data, it’s running at a relatively high rate of 128 kb/s, but only using MP1/2 mono.

There’s more than enough space to offer multiple services in AAC+ or to offer the current service at a considerably higher rate.

Is there a reason for not using a codec with higher efficacy?

I work in broadcast radio in the UK, I’d be up for helping source content or creating some more bespoke services for Othernet, if that’s something you’re looking to develop.


The bitrate you are seeing is from the receiver to your browser. The audio bitrate over the air is around 8 kbps. At the moment, there is no audio in Europe; we need to implement a schedule which switches between audio and data, since the total bitrate from the satellite is 10 kbps. We have a faster channel in the US (20 kbps), so audio and data run simultaneously.

Just wanted to clarify that before we talk about any additional services.

Ah ok. Well that explains the bit rate I’m seeing through the online version of Skylark.

I didn’t realise there was such a difference between data rates from beam to beam. Are there plans to broadcast the same content to the US and Europe?

Are you trimming any other content the European feed other than radio?


The goal is to eventually have at least 20kbps on all beams, with the BBC World Service available on all of them, while simultaneously broadcasting weather, RSS feed, and messages. But each beam is independently driven, so the content does not need to be the same.

Ifwe added another 10kbps of bitrate, we could broadcast Bitcoin blocks. Good for publicity and possibly business, but not sure it’s really that useful.

I would really like to broadcast Khan Academy courseware and videos, but we still haven’t figured out how to get receivers into really remote locations.

1 Like

Maybe not the videos, but I really liked it when you had 20 minutes audio segments with the a short introductory statement describing “Up next is BBC news followed by Khan STEM course on number …”

1 Like

Satellite radio was a key reason for me getting a Dreamcatcher.

I was a big fan of Worldspace, it’s one the reasons I took interest in broadcast technology as a career.

Is there anyway of implementation within the bandwidth you’ve got now? Perhaps using a better codec than is already being used on the US beam?

The BBC World Service is a great choice, especially for parts of Europe and Africa.


1 Like

Accessing copyrighted radio content is an expensive deal for Othernet. Using VOA is easy as it is a US Government product which is an open source for reuse. BBC is quite another thing.

When we first started adding RSS news summaries, I worked to get BBC approval to allow Othernet to use it with no fee. Many Forum Members worked with others such as Aljazeera and DW. Many sources rejected our rapprochements.

If some of you Forum members have “ins” with Government and private radio sources, it will be helpful to Othernet if you would pursue gaining fee-free access.

I can envision a rotation between VOA and BBC news broadcasts. Add some others, and Othernet will really be cooking. Ken

1 Like

So there are already agreements in place for the news content that’s being sent from the BBC and others?

I’m not sure how much help I can be in sourcing relevant 3rd party content.

I work for a commercial radio broadcaster in the UK with around 60 local and national brands, and whilst I think there wouldn’t be any objections to discussing open access to content, none of them are dedicated talk or news brands.

Worldspace did carry one of our stations for a while and this continued well after the commercial agreement ended and the company entered bankruptcy.

Podcasts might be another option, but again, it’s content that’s more music and entertainment focused.

I’m happy to make contact with our teams if you see any value there?


Yes that is correct. Either the corporate folks at Othernet worked them out, or some of us Forum Members did it for Othernet acting as volunteers. Ken

@kenbarbi is correct. When BBC is added, there will definitely be a fee we pay for is.
@Ross What kind of content do your stations have?

Something needs to done with the audio service source. This horrible sounding
music station is NOT a good demonstration.

Here is an idea. Discontinue the North American audio part of the downloading until the bugs
in skylark 5.6 are solved

Hi Syed,

I work for Bauer Media. We’ve got a good number of brands that cover pretty much most genres.


@Ross Holly cow you have a lot distinct channels. Do you have any talk-radio that might be interesting to a non-UK audience?

1 Like

Unfortunately not. Our networks are mainly concentrated on local UK and music genres.

Having said that, a few of our stations have been broadcast internationally before - Virgin Radio (now Absolute Radio), was carried on Worldspace. This was way before I joined the company, but from what I gather, it was pretty popular.

We also have a number podcasts that are more talk oriented - book club, movie guide, celebrity gossip.

I’d be happy to propose usage with our teams - if you think any of the music led content would be beneficial?

Another thing I was thinking about was the possibility of Dreamcatcher including an EPG for the radio side of things. Perhaps allow auto recording of the audio stream and then give the option to playback previously broadcast content - in the same way news stories are downloaded and cached.

It’d offer a good use of the bandwidth because essentially you’d be able to playback a mass of shows directly from DC, but still offer the option to listen live. The bitrate of the stream is so low that you’d be able to store a good few days of content on a decent size SD card.

That way you could create a hybrid live radio service - perhaps switching between different stations or podcasts throughout the day - whilst offering cached playback of previous shows - all without adding any additional bits. You could even offer audio news bulletins that could be recorded automatically every few hours and ready for playback.


1 Like

Hi all,

i am back in business after a while. DC arrived after 2 days thanks to FEDEX! Skylark 5.7 was already mounted in a 32-Gb-uSD. Works now on an 80cm-dish with more than +7 dB SNR. Will give it a try with the bare LNB in the next days.
And surprise: Audio (War of the Worlds) is also up at the moment.

Wolfgang, DH2WS

Good to see you back, Wolfgang. Ken

Had just been listening VOA in special english via Astra. Now it is off. Voice quality was good, but music, as expected, not. Reception here with the bare LNB and about -9dB SNR, RSSI is -78. All in Rain and below a thick cloud layer. Running Skylark 5.7.
Access to the box: obereip.selfhost.de.

Wolfgang, DH2WS

a couple of hours ago with an audio bitrate of 8000 bps the voice quality was absolutely ok and understandable. Now it runs with 3500 bps, which also quite ok for a voice transmission. For me that would be a good compromise for the available 10000 bps over here in Europe.

My “America’s” feed is

The 8100 bps is acceptable for most voices… and limited musical scores.
I guess it is a trade-off between the data files and audio streams