Satellite radio's popularity is growing rapidly nationwide. The leading provider, XM, claims it has 2 million subscribers, and smaller competitor
Sirius Satellite Radio recently said it has 500,000 subscribers. The two companies now offer a total of 133 commercial-free music channels and 88 of
talk radio. Both XM and Sirius are racing to launch new technology and programming.
Satellite channels beam their signals to a satellite orbiting more than 22,000 miles above the earth, which then transmits them to radio receivers in
cars and homes. Subscribers buy receivers, priced as low as $50, to receive the service. The technology allows listeners to hear the same station
anywhere in the continental United States.
The Federal Communications Commission initially opened up bandwidth on its satellites for commercial broadcast in 1997. Four companies paid $80
million each to access the spectrum.
Subscribers often say that in addition to its availability, satellite radio's voluminous programming -- as diverse as music from rapper Eminem and a
National Rifle Association talk show -- is why they pay $10 a month. Music genres from the obscure to the ubiquitous fill the radio dial. NASCAR fans
find comprehensive coverage, as do opera enthusiasts and Britney Spears fans.
"With their library of more than 2 million songs, you're bound to hear songs you like that you haven't heard in years," says subscriber Ryan
Mathus, 20, a student at the University of Delaware.
But Mathus says a lack of local news, weather and traffic detracts from satellite radio's coverage.
To fill that gap, XM has recently patented technology to use ground repeaters and tailor listeners' weather and traffic to their location.
That move has sparked a heated dispute about how far satellite radio should infringe on traditional radio's long-held territory.
XM reports it is on track to reach 20 million subscribers by 2010. Sirius will soon have talk stations hosted by skateboarding champion Tony Hawk and
the staff of racy men's magazine Maxim. Car companies Honda, Porsche and General Motors plan to offer satellite radio in new vehicles, and new
premium pay-channels, such as one from Playboy, are being added.
I am a subscirber to XM Radio and I love it ! I don't know that I'll ever go back to full time FM listening. Right now the only time I do is if
I'm traveling and want to tune in to Howard Stern or local Weather.
I think this is a great thing and hope it's around for years to come !
So do you XM or Sirius and what are your thoughts and opinions ?