The Truth About Unlimited Listeners, Bandwidth, Bitrate And Space With Shoutcast And Icecast Hosting Providers

July 30, 2012 in Blog by Javier Rivera  |  5 Comments


ShoutCheap has a leadership position as the fastest growing company in Shoutcast and Icecast Hosting. We have a commitment to provide the best and most affordable Internet Radio Solution. At the same time we have been helping to grow the Internet Radio Community by building strong relationships and trust between ShoutCheap and our clients.

Numerous websites claim to offer ‘unlimited’ services, the purpose of this article is to expose these scams and hopefully prevent people from being ripped off  by such offers. That being said, let’s begin.


The word Unlimited is a very powerful word in marketing, with the unlimited word you  can almost sell a refrigerator to a Eskimo. In the Internet radio marketing world it is a word that is very common, unlimited listeners, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited auto dj space you named. But as a customer you have to be wise at the time to choose your “unlimited” company.

Usually what these companies really mean by “unlimited” is, you can use the service unless you become a problem. When you become a problem that means you are compromising the quality of the service affecting other clients services.

Do not get me wrong you can find unlimited services but with a control point, for example unlimited bandwidth, the control point will be a fixed number of listeners. This way the hosting provider has a quality control and is not overcrowding the server.

Doing a research online I found a user asking this question at Winamp Forum:

Can hosts offer unlimited listener slots?

First response: uh, no, and if they did I would be suspicious of them.

Second Respond: Well actually, it may be possible. Some hosts you buy the bandwidth from them instead of the monthly slots, and they offer whatever bitrate you want and however many listeners, but once you use up the bandwidth, your outta luck.

Third Response: if you can ‘use up’ something that sorta doesn’t make it unlimited

Forth response: Well they let you have as many slots as you want, and your bitrate can go as high as you want, but you have an allotted bandwidth limit. You still can have unlimited listeners, but for how long is the question, which depends on the bitrate

And many more answers but what really got my attention was the answer of another responsible company like ShoutCheap:

Oh, stay clear of all hosts who offer any of the following:

– Unlimited listener slots
– Unlimited bitrate (what you gonna stream at 100,000kbs?!)
– Unlimited bandwidth
– Unlimited Disk Space

WHY?….simply because there is NO SUCH THING!

EVERY server has its limits. Those stream or webhosts who offer unlimited assets, are lying to you!

Personlally, I wouldn’t do business with anyone if I knew they were fibbing to me?!

That is the truth everything has a limit, a limit on CPU, a limit on RAM a limit on Hard Drive space and a limit on bandthwith. In the business world that means everything has a cost. It all comes down to how responsible the hosting provider is to give something for free without compromising the quality control. Unlimited? Maybe but I agree with what that friend from another company said:

Oh, stay clear of all hosts who offer any of the following:

– Unlimited listener slots
– Unlimited bitrate (what you gonna stream at 100,000kbs?!)
– Unlimited bandwidth
– Unlimited Disk Space

Let’s define what this “Unlimited” services really means:

  • Unlimited listener slots
    This is limited by the server bandwidth connection. If the server internet connection is enough to stream only 1,000 listeners at 128kbps, the “unlimited listeners” connection will be shared with all the server users. When the server has 50 clients/users with “unlimited listeners” service, no one client will get 1,000 listeners.
  • Unlimited bitrate
    Useless, very rarely do people stream above 128kbps, 128kbps is near cd quality. Above that listening on a small computer speaker you will not notice the diference between 128, 192 and 256. If you plan to stream to smart phones your listener will not apreciate a constant buffering from a 256kbps feed.
  • Unlimited bandwidth
    This is the only one that is worthwhile. It will give you peace of mind, you will pay the same amount at the end of the month, every month. No surprises because you went over your limit. But unlimited? No, it is unlimited for you but the server has a limit, and it is the responsibility of the hosting provider to not overload/overcrowd the server. If the server’s bandwidth goes over the limit he will be the responsable but this is the only one that will not affect the server performance.
  • Unlimited Disk Space
    This is limited by the size of the hard disk. Can you upload anything you want? Well maybe. If the hard disk has the space you need and the disk is not almost full because other users have uploaded all their music libraries before you, then yes you can upload all your files. In other words you could be buying a bus ticket to get to somewhere on a bus with almost empty tank. Even Godaddy a large web hosting provider claims unlimited Disk Space, but go to the small letters: “Plan provides unlimited storage subject to availability of space on a single clustered server” 

These companies advertise Unlimited Listeners, Bitrate and Space plans because they know they seem to be more attractive to people. But they are Overselling/overcrowding the servers and that will end in lower quality performance for your audio streaming service.

Overselling is definitively something to avoid! (unless you want a bad audio streaming experience or you want to end up moving everything to somewhere else later and lose your ip and port) Good hosts will not overcrowd their servers and keep the user limits suggested by the server manufacturer to give you great, fast and non-intermittent service.

The next time you see the “Unlimited All”, stay away from that, “Unlimited All” just means that company doesn’t care about quality and service, in other words it is a  “we just want to sell”. Look for a company who really cares about quality and service. Internet Radio is growing very fast and there are only a few companies with a real commitment in helping to grow the internet radio community.

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  • Alan Fahrner

    Well said…and I’m glad my station is with Shout Cheap!

  • Alfa

    Me too : ) so proud to be one of your clients .
    Keep the good work


    Well informed and I’m proud to say I’m a shout cheap client. Shout cheap to the world!

  • WKDfm

    Good clear article, thank you. Well, if you read the terms and conditions, they always use a ‘fair use policy’. I would love to be playing to 1,000 users but, more important to me is the ability to use the 128k bandwidth at the price I get it at from ShoutCheap. As important as all these, ‘offers’ are, is support! ShoutCheap support is fast and efficient. I’m staying here.


    We heard a lot of good feedbacks from our clients.
    They are using and they love it!