Satellite radio

Broadcast radio has been around since the beginning of the last century. It was the primary means of entertainment for millions of people before the arrival of television. It is mainly supported by advertisements and donations in some cases. Come 1998, Worldspace corp. launched the first satellite radio focusing its services on the Asian and African markets. This new concept is supposed to mirror the success of cable television over local broadcast channels. One disadvantage of satellite radio over terrestrial radio is that listeners would have to pay a subscription in order to hear a broad range of programming. In 2001, Xm satellite radio launched its services and Sirius followed a year later. Unlike Worldspace corp which only offers stationary service, XM and Sirius offer on the go satellite services which can be received on satellite radio equipped cars and portable devices. No longer would cross-country drivers loose their favorite radio programs because they are out of range, satellite radio provides continuous streaming programming all over US and Canada. XM uses two primary and two back up satellites manufactured by Boeing co orbiting at 85 West longitude. Loral Corp. supplied Sirius with 3 active and one backup satellite. Sirius also contracted STMicroelectronics to supply its portable receivers with microprocessors.

The FCC allocates Sirius XM 12.5 megahertz of radio spectrum. A limited bandwidth means the company has to compress data without losing much of its quality when it reaches receiver. Just like satellite television, satellite radio has to receive signals coming in from the southern sky. Since its primary market, satellite equipped vehicles are always on the move, Sirius XM modeled their system just like how mobile phones are connected to each other, through the use of terrestrial repeaters. These repeaters complement signals received by satellite radio receivers directly from the orbiting satellites. Radio waves coming in from orbiting satellites are received by these repeaters and then beamed in all directions to satellite radio receivers. Satellite radio may be at its infancy, and people are saying they would not pay for radio because there is always free terrestrial radio as well as mp3 players. These same statements were also uttered during the early days of cable and satellite television. A time where free broadcast TV provided the most basic programming consumers thought they needed.

Sirius XM satellite radio (NASDAQ: SIRI)
STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM)

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