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Sonicbox To ‘Unchain’ PC Listeners

October 12, 1999

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) _ Sonicbox Inc. announced it will begin a trial deployment of its Internet radio tuner, which transmits Internet-based audio to standard FM radios.

The Sonicbox Tuner lets consumers with a high-speed Internet connection listen to Internet radio programming anywhere in their home, the company said Tuesday in a statement.

The device consists of a small base-unit that connects to a PC and a hand-held remote tuner. The base-unit relays Internet radio broadcasts to an unused frequency of any FM radio receiver within 100 feet. The hand-held remote allows listeners to change stations, request more information about a song or make an online purchase of a CD.

``It’s basically a similar concept to your television cable box, where you set your television to channel 3 or 4 and gain access to hundreds of channels,″ says David Frerichs, director of software and marketing at Sonicbox. ``We just happen to be using a PC and a broadband connection to do that.″

Sonicbox will make 800 stations available to its customers.

So far, Web radio’s dominance has been at the workplace _ where listeners have access to computers with high-speed Internet connections. Sonicbox aims to expand the Internet radio audience, however, by ``unchaining″ listeners from their PCs. Still, potential Sonicbox users will need a high-speed connection for their home PC, which costs about $50 a month.

The Mountain View-based company is giving away 1,000 tuners this fall to customers of Flashcom Inc., which provides high-speed Internet connections in 29 major metropolitan markets.

The Sonicbox Tuner is expected to hit the retail market in the first quarter of 2000 at a cost of about $50.

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