Satellite Radio

How did satellite radio get started and what is its future? We provide everything you need to know about satellte radio and how it works.


When it comes to satellite radio, I was wrong. Back in 2000, when XM and Sirius were announced at CES, I was convinced that both would die a rapid death, with nary a tear shed by anyone but their investors. Why pay ten bucks a month, I reasoned, for something you can get for free? It was the height of Napster, when free (albeit illegal) music sharing was at its zenith. Royalty-free Internet radio abounded. Decent broadcast radio was not yet an oxymoron. And it seemed that there were much better things to spend money on than music.

So what changed my tune? It had nothing to do with all the marketing money each company spends trying to influence journalists. It wasn't a timely product placement by some enterprising PR rep. Nope, oddly enough, it was a Ford Taurus that first turned my head.

The history of satellite radio begins in 1992, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to set aside a portion of spectrum to be devoted to nationwide distribution of digital radio service via satellite. SIRIUS Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio bid huge amounts of money (at least $80 million each) for licenses to use this new allocation of spectrum, which were eventually awarded to them by the FCC. Owning the right to use the spectrum, though, was only the first step. Even if they could start delivering satellite radio signals right away, there were no consumer-accessible portable satellite radios to receive the signal. Additionally, there was substantial debate within the radio industry.

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Think of your favorite music or discussion topics, piped into your home or car in digital quality, crystal-clear sound. And then think of your favorite format with absolutely no commercials no used car salesmen, no fuel company ads, no heavy rotation ads hawking every possible product or service all the way to work&home.


With Sirius and XM continuing to land partnership deals with just about every vehicle maker on the planet, the option to add Satellite radio in your new vehicle is being offered at more automobile.


The FM modulator or FM transmitter is a device used to play your plug-and-play Satellite radio receiver through your vehicle’s FM stereo. FM transmitters can also be used to play other digital audio devices like iPods, CD and MD players.


Owning the right to use the spectrum, though, was only the first step. Even if they could start delivering satellite radio signals right away, there were no consumer accessible portable ...