Friday, April 09, 2010

Sirius XM to Launch Another Geostationary Satellite

Sirius XM (aka Satellite CD Radio) applied for authority to launch another geostationary satellite (FM-6) to act as a backup to the previously launched geostationary satellite, FM-5. FM-5 , along with three NGO satellites, currently service the Sirius satellite radios. The XM side of the business has its own constellation.

The three NGO satellites were launched in 2000 and will be 12 years old when FM-6 becomes operational in 2012. The NGO satellites will be phased outs and FM-5 will be relocated to make the constellation nearly identical to the legacy XM constellation, allowing the integration of the two systems. The transmissions will be compatible with current of future generations of Sirius XM radios.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

And Liberty for None

Liberty Satellite Radio, that is. If WorldSpace thought Liberty Media was bluffing when it terminated negotiations, it may be thinking differently now. In December of 2009, Liberty Media filed for a consent to acquire two satellites from AfriSpace, the Debtor in Possession of the satellites used for the WorldSpace service in India. The name of the company would have been Liberty Satellite Radio. Today, April 08, 2010, Liberty Media withdrew its request from the International Bureau of the FCC, officially ending its quest for world domination.

AfriSpace has threatened to decommission its satellites. We have not yet been unable to find any evidence that it has made any filings with the FCC to do so. Liberty may be calling AfriSpace's bluff.

Is it over? Doubtful. It's valuable spectrum, and if it is returned to the FCC, it will likely be a long time before it is used. No one wants that to happen. Keep watching. The saga continues.

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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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