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SIP accessible media services; and why can’t we listen to the radio/podcast from a phone?

Just in case anyone ends up reading this post hoping for an answer to the radio/podcast question in the title, unfortunately it’s not here. It may be possible, and I’m sure one day it will be, but apart from setting up a media server, which is what sipsorcery is all about avoiding, I don’t know how to do it.

Playing around with publicly accessible media services that can be used with sipsorcery is something I always find interesting and have been doing since the mysipswitch days. I’ve blogged about a previous unsuccessful effort to use a hosted VXML service. I got motivated to write this blog entry after reading a post on the mysipswitch forums by gabbar.singh Free stuffs. The post contains a link to a site called Polinez which purports to assign a dedicated US landline number to arbitrary podcast URLs and thereby make them accessible to any PSTN phone. In turn using a SIP Provider or GoogleVoice to call the US landline number makes the podcasts accessible from a SIP phone. I tested it out with a triplej (Australian radio station) free music podcast and while a number of +16414533901 was allocated when calling it I get either a seemingly random podcast or an unavailable message.

Following the experience with Polinez I did a bit of a hunt around for any other way to connect a phone to a podcast along with any free music on hold or other types of streaming services that would work with a phone. Not that suprisingly I didn’t find that many, the web browser is the predominant access mechanism for streams these days and the phone is largely ignored. It’s a shame because there are times when accessing media via a phone, be it hard of soft, is preferrable and even superior to a web browser. Flash media, as used by Amazon’s Cloudfront and YouTube, are great examples of incredibly convenient ways to stream media but with no way to easily access it from a phone :(.

The best I can come up with at the moment are a few numbers that provide streaming on hold music. Like the SIP Application Servers if anyone knows of any others I’d love to hear about them.

  • music on hold from Blue Face’s Asterisk server,
  • fado of Anamar provided by iptel,
  • same as above but this time as early media,

Update 23 Jan 2010 I was mucking around with Tropo to see about getting Blind Transfers working when I spotted that it’s possible to playback mp3’s directly from a Tropo application, something I’d missed before. I know my favourite radio station triplej has a live mp3 feed so that got me wondering whether I would finally have an easy way to play live radio on my IP phone?! The Tropo app required is amazingly only two lines:

say ""

My initial test calls failed which made me think that the Tropo server was not able to play mp3 streams and instead needed to fully download and mp3 files it needed to play. I posted a query on the Tropo forums just in case I was missing something. A Tropo staffer responded almost instantaneously that playing mp3 streams was supported and that he was able to connect to the triplej stream without any problems. I tried another few times and after about 4 or 5 calls had success! I am still only able to get the occassional call to connect to the triplej stream but I think that’s the streaming servers’s issue not Tropo’s as I have the same problem trying to connect from Windows Media Player. The reliability aside that’s the first time I’ve been able to listen to a live radio stream on my phone without having to come up with a custom solution involving Asterisk or the LIVE555 Streaming Media Server, AMAZING!