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RealAudio's new signal

Progressive Networks plans to introduce a new version of its RealAudio software tomorrow that sweetens the sound of Net broadcasts.

With competition in the Net audio market heating up almost daily, Progressive Networks plans to introduce a new version of its RealAudio software tomorrow that sweetens the sound of Net broadcasts.

Progressive Networks' third-generation product, RealAudio 3.0, boosts the quality of audio transmissions from FM-radio mono to FM-radio stereo quality over 28.8-kbps modems, according to a company spokeswoman.

The software can also "scale up" to take advantage of high-bandwidth connections. Over ISDN, audio transmissions approach CD quality, and over T1 connections RealAudio 3.0 provides genuine, CD-quality sound.

Although it is the established leader in the Net audio space, Progressive Networks is facing increasing competition from the likes of Macromedia and Xing Technologies. The companies make software that allows Web sites to stream audio across the Internet so that users can listen to music or news broadcasts as the clips are downloaded, rather than after they are downloaded completely.

Today, Microsoft became the latest entrant in the streaming media market by announcing NetShow, a Windows NT server technology that delivers streamed audio and video.

At the IMA Expo trade show in New York tomorrow, Progressive Networks will attempt to remind users that it is a veteran in the streaming audio market.

In addition to its new releases, Progressive Networks will also break new ground by allowing Web sites to deliver RealAudio broadcasts from any standard Web server. With current versions of the software, Web sites must use a specialized RealAudio server. Macromedia's Shockwave technology also allows Web sites to stream audio from standard servers.

The company hopes not to cannibalize its own server sales, from which it generates most of its revenues, by limiting audio broadcasts from Web servers to small sound clips. In comparison, the RealAudio Server is designed to handle larger audio broadcasts to more users.

Tomorrow, Progressive Networks will also release 3.0 versions of its RealAudio Server and Encoder. RealAudio Player 3.0 will be available for downloading from the Net, according to a spokeswoman.