Monday, October 13, 2008


My discussion started with an in depth history of the race to invent radio. This race culminated in a victory for Guglielmo Marconi. He was the first to patent his ideas, followed soon after by Nikola Tesla. From there we discussed the recent history of satellite radio. Sirius had an early lead in the race to be the first fully operating satellite radio company. They got the first satellite into orbit on Friday, June 30, 2000. Unfortunately due to some unforeseen complications the company did not complete it’s satellite network first. That title goes to XM satellite radio on Tuesday, September 25, 2001.

From here we went on to discuss in brief the two different kinds of orbital satellite paths being used by the two different companies. The first of which is a geosynchronous highly elliptical orbit, what that means is that each of three satellites spends approximately 16 hours of air time pre day over the continental US. This allows for a higher orbit, and points the signal mostly down, keeping it from being easily blocked by tall buildings in cities and other forms of interference. It also allows Sirius to have a much smaller terrestrial repeater network than XM. XM uses to geostationary satellites instead, because of this the satellites are always over the US, but can be blocked and so need a larger repeater network.

Next we discussed the pros and cons of the 16 month long $3.6 billion merger of Sirius and XM. The vote from the FCC took the longest and it was split down the party lines. The basis for allowing the merger to happen was that there was sufficient competition from other forms of media, meaning that the media was not big enough to warrant having multiple providers. They set strict rules on price, allocated 8% of the current channels to public broadcasting, and forced both companies to pay fines for previous monopolistic tendencies.

Finally we discussed our opinions of where satellite radio is going, and if it can be a viable business in the future. Most of the class agreed that unless some major re-working occurred that the company would succumb to the other forms of media that are currently available.

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