Garmin, an XM partner for XM equipped GPS and aviation weather systems, filed a notice with the FCC concerning the merger. Garmin asks the FCC require the XM service be maintained at its present frequency and in the same format for 20 years.
First, the facts:
* 28,000 XM equipped aviation products sold in the last 3 years
* 75% of the above units are for portable systems
* 25% are installed in cockpits
* Spent $1 million to develop receiver and software for portable products
* Spent some $3 million over 2 years to develop and obtain initial FAA aircraft certification
* Has obtained FAA certification on approximately 20 new production aircraft at a cost of about $4 million for the XM related products
* Certification costs $0.5 to $1 million each
Garmin points out that Sirius' joint venture with WSI has not produced any marketed or installed radios and is still in development and that the equipment "is in no way interoperable with Garmin/XM's systems". WSI has not obtained FAA certification for the Sirius/WSI products. The WSI products scheduled to start shipping this month will eventually have to be replaced with jointly developed Sirius/WSI products, also requiring certification. There are no portable devices with which Garmin is aware.
Obviously, Garmin has a stake in the merger. While Garmin never opposes the merger, it asks the FCC to put severe restrictions on it on the grounds that it could endanger general aviation safety. Garmin blasts Sirius and XM for not developing interoperable radios. But then turns around and says that interoperability should be "similarly disregarded by regulators", saying that 'future promises of an interoperable "fix" are unacceptable in the area of public safety' . Garmin's concern is also over the investment that it and its consumers have in the XM related products. Re-developing its products and acquiring FAA certification would take years and cost millions of dollars.
Garmin is asking the FCC to mandate the the merged company maintain the current frequency and format for 20 years. "Any decision by the FCC that does not require the merged XM-Sirius entity to provide such service will have an extremely serious effect on the commercial and general aviation safety in this country."
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