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What is Satellite Radio?

by: Scott Fish

Satellite Radio Its here! Satellite radio is a new service being offered by two companies, XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio. Both companies are offering over 100 channels of streaming music and entertainment. High quality sound is achieved through the use of satellites orbiting high above. Satellite radio has been commercial free and free from regulations by federal committees. The impossible, is now possible, hearing the same radio station across north America and from coast to coast. All made possible by XM satellite radio and Sirius satellite radio.

XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio have designed satellite broadcast systems that differ but they achieve the same high quality of satellite radio. A milestone of this success is the fact that satellite radio signals that are available across the United States and into Mexico and Canada. Rock and Roll No its not a genre any more! XM Satellite Radio has two satellites named Rock and Roll which remain in parallel geostationary orbit to provide radio coverage throughout the United States. Sirius Satellite Radio has chose to use three satellites in an inclined elliptical orbit. This configuration provides 16 hours per satellite of signal, which gives a great redundancy if any satellite were to fail. Playing it smart, Sirius and XM both have spare satellites, which can be called on in a moments notice if needed.

XM satellite radio and sirius satellite radio have Earth based broadcast stations that are used to send up information to the satellites, which is then dispersed through out the globe. Sirius and XM both have disk jockeys that manage, create and program music which is then sent up to the satellites. The information is then taken in by the satellites and sent through a rebroadcast of the streams to earth. The Major advantage of this is that, unlike earth-based radio stations whose signals reach listeners 150 miles away, satellite radio signals have a huge reach, and are receivable anywhere within the continental United States and hundreds of miles in each direction of the borders. Satellite Radio is growing to become a world wide network and offerings are growing throughout the world. XM satellite radio and Sirius satellite radio are making it happen!

So How Does Satellite Radio Work: First, a receiver decodes and plays the received signals through an antenna. In the beginning, some cars have used a tuner that accepts the antenna signals and then passes them to a satellite radio-ready radio for playing. Ad the concept has grown out of the car and into the home, home kits for satellite radio use direct RCA inputs for home theater and traditional stereo systems. A Growing number of choices is occurring and each company is developing a broad scope of products for consumers. Already we are seeing receivers for car-only, boom boxes, computer-only, and portables for use in car and home configurations. The companies making these products are, Audiovox, Delphi Skyfi, Terk, and plenty others are jumping on board. Both XM satellite radio and Sirius satellite radio have licensed recievers and other products for consumers use.

About The Author

Scott fish is the Owner of www.TopSatelliteRadio.com. Top Satellite Radio is a resource for consumers seeking the history and facts about satellite radio. We also sell electronics related to Satellite Radio. Quick Access: www.TopSatRadio.com sf@topsatelliteradio.com


I have an XM Satellite radio installed on my 2004 HD Road Glide. The antenna is inside the fairing and the receiver is mounted on my left handlebar. This is not the best set-up because it sticks up and looks ugly, but is very functional. I am thinking of attaching the receiver to the fairing about the glove box with velcro. That way I can take it off and take it with me when I leave the bike. I have speakers inside my helmet and can hear the radio well at 80 mph.

It works very well. I don't use it when I am at home as the local radio stations work fine. But when I am on the open road the satellite radio is a godsent as it gets signals everywhere. It really helps to break the boredom of long stretches of interstate. It has over 100 channels and gets all the hot sports events. I highly recommend it.
- Fred P.

I have an XM radio cradle installed on my bike. It is mounted on the right handlebar and is in turn connected to my battery and has an rf transmitter that transmits the sattellite signal to my fm radio. The satellite antenna is mounted inside my fairing out of sight. I can easily pop the receiver in and out of the cradle, and use the receiver in my home or car when not in use on my bike.

Around town I leave it covered as I get plenty of music through my normal radio channels. But on the open road it is worth its weight in gold. I never lose a station and can listen to just about any kind of music every recorded (XM has 150+ stations) as well the news and public radio. Even my sports teams are available all over the country. If I want to listen to a Cal football game, I have to go to XM radio, as it is not broadcast outside the Bay Area.

My one complaint is the lack of volume. While I can hear my radio and CD player very well at 80 mph, with the volume only turned up half way, the satellite radio needs to be turned up all the way and can be barely heard. To listen to the news or other talking, one can't be going much faster than 60. I don't know why the volume is less than other things plugged into the radio, like my mp3 player, but it is and is sometimes annoying. Still, I would not consider a multi day ride without one.
- Michael A.

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