Friday, August 25, 2006

XM Receives New Re-certifications

Today, XM received re-certification grants for the Sportscaster and the Roady XT on behalf of the FCC. The AudioVox was cleared as well. The testing was extensive as seen in the four testing reports for each radio. The following letter was sent to XM's and AudioVox'sTCBs:

aaa, 06:51 PM 8/22/2006 -0400, RE: Review of FM Modulator Page 1 of 12

Subject: RE: Review of FM Modulator

Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2006 18:51:40 -0400

X-MS-Has-Attach:
X-MS-TNEF-Correlator: Thread-Topic: Review of FM Modulator, Audiovox FCC ID: BGA-XMXP03
Thread-Index: AcbFdYAozy4+OeztQFSGGOXGIiJ6sAAcZxv/ABU864A=

From: "aaa"
To: bbb, "ccc" , "ddd"

X-OriginalArrivalTime: 22 Aug 2006 22:51:41.0141 (UTC) FILETIME=[88768050:01C6C63D]

X-NAS-BWL: Found match for 'aaa@fcc.gov' on the allowed list (417 addresses, 0 domains)

X-NAS-Classification: 0
X-NAS-MessageID: 1104
X-NAS-Validation: {9C3ED9BD-B7B8-4535-997B-0205512A69A2}

bbb:

I just wanted to update you on our latest decision.

We have decided that in order to process the application, we are going
to require that the applicant submit data showing compliance with two
configurations.

- Show compliance with tabletop tests using a whip antenna over a ground
plane when the coupler is connected to the whip antenna.

- Show compliance in 3 different vehicles with windshield antennas when
the coupler is placed on the windshield close to the antenna traces.

The vehicle should be representative of different configurations of windshield antennas (rear, side) and large or small cars. Once you have reviewed the test reports for completeness and have determined the filing is complete, please contact us to unblock the specific grantee code. At this time please do not process any more applications than what we agree with. Thus we expect one with XXXX grantee code and two with XXXX in the next couple of days. Once the
grants are issued we will block the codes again.

Please contact ddd to unblock the grantee code. On Friday, you may have to contactccc. Let me know if you have any additional questions. I appreciate your help in coordinating this with us.

Thanks,

aaa

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

First, it is evident that this grant was issued in close coordination with the FCC. There should be little chance of the FCC questioning it again later. By the tone of this, it appears that XM is now in the clear.

Secondly, it talks about some kind of coupler. In one case the coupler is attached to the car whip antenna or is perhaps in proximity to it. In the other, the coupler is placed in proximity to the windshield antenna.

On the surface, it sounds like a great idea. They are getting the signal to where it is needed--the antenna. For the Ki Ryung radios, the antenna is built into the radio. They simply diminished the signal until it was no longer a problem. Even though it may be near the radio, it doesn't do much good, because the radio is shielded. It has to get the signal to the car antenna to be effective. Since the signal strength diminishes inversely proportional to the square of the distance, by the time it reaches the car antenna, the signal is very weak and ineffective, especially with the recent power level decrease.

It sounds like XM has some sort of stick on coupler for the windshied antenna to put the signal where the antenna is. Alternatively, it appears that they might have a coupler (maybe just a wire) in contact or in proximity to the car whip antenna. At that point, the signal doesn't have to be that strong, a brilliantly simple idea. It is a variation upon their existing method. It adds a little complexity, but the extra step is not beyond the capabilities, from what has been gathered, of the ordinary DIYer. It is a little akin to the wired in modulator approach where the signal is wired in directly to the antenna, except for the antenna is not switched out. A wired in modulator is still the best approach.

Normally, they are required to publish internal and external pictures of the radios. In this case, XM has asked for temporary confidentiality until October 9, 2006. We will get our first look then. It makes sense. Sirius will obviously have to do something differently. No use giving Sirius the benefit of their research.

It light of the FCC requirements, there is a high probability in my mind that the recent StarMate re-certifications will be dismissed. The FCC has already requested additional information. They apparently use a similar technique to what XM was using. The XM grants were rejected. I can't envision them accepting the StarMate application while not allowing XM to do the same thing, unless Wistron NeWeb turned the power down to the point of being useless.

It appears that XM may now be in the clear, but there is still a cloud of uncertainty about Sirius' radios in my mind. There is little doubt about the Ki Ryung radios such as the Sportster 4, but the power levels may be too low to be useful for use with the FM modulator. That could hurt Sirius' image. My feeling is that the re-certified StarMate will be rejected. Who knows about the new radios that were announced. It is reasonable to assume that the FCC has clarified the procedure for Sirius as well. Once the procedure is known, it should be cut and dried.




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