Thursday, April 08, 2010

FCC Proposes Rules to Minimize Interference between SDARS and WCS

In the biggest news event for satellite radio since the merger, the FCC has finally issued draft interference rules to limit interference between Satellite Digital Audio Service (SDARS, aka Satellite Radio) and the Wireless Communication Services (WCS). A bitter battle between the two services has ensued for years as the WCS providers have been trying to take advantage of the frequencies on either side of the satellite radio band.

The proposed rules will finally give clarity to the repeater issues. Sirius XM will finally get the coveted blanket authority to operate repeaters under a certain power level. It will also give SDARS a 2.5 MHz guardband to protect against interference to the satellite radio service.

The WCS providers will finally be able to make use of its valuable frequency. Unfortunately for SDARS, this frequency band once set aside for satellite radio will no longer be even a dream for satellite radio. Mobile internet users will benefit. Some SDARS repeaters may have to be altered or moved or decommissioned.

The saga has not ended quite yet. The FCC is requesting comments on the proposed rules. The comment period is short, only 2 weeks. Sirius XM has requested a 2 week extension. The WCS Coalition seems to be saying, "Let's get this over with". It is clearly not happy with the rules, but wants to move forward. It rightly accuses Sirius XM of delay tactics. No doubt, Sirius XM has legitimate reasons to fear interference from the WCS, but it could also have ulterior motives to make this frequency band worthless to all, except SDARS, of course. The Coalition believes Sirius XM is delaying because it will bring new competion:

"And, adoption of the new rules will subject Sirius XM to new competition from WCS-enabled mobile broadband that provides the public with mobile access to free services like Pandora, Slacker and a range of Internet radio services that largely duplicate, if not improve upon, Sirius XM’s offerings."

The statement clearly shows the animosity between the two services and the Coalition could not help be take a swipe at Sirius XM. In any case, Sirius XM will delay the rules to the bitter end. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The rules please no one, so it must be a good balance between the two services. We say, "Let's get it over with and move on, Sirius XM."

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