The Basics of Satellite Radio Systems

Satellite radio systems are the consumer's access to space-based audio technology, offering uncensored, commercial-free programming that comes in crystal clear no matter where you are. But how do they actually work?The most basic explanation is as follows: programming is transmitted to a communications space satellite, which beams a digital signal back to earth. The signal is encrypted, so it can only be picked up by special proprietary equipment. The signal can be broadcast across more than 22,000 miles and received by the end user with absolutely no degradation in clarity or sound quality.But the basics are only a small part of what makes satellite radio systems work. Many innovations and the use of cutting-edge communications technology have brought digital radio a long way from where it began just over a decade ago.Digital radio was actually operating in the early 1990s, with Washington-based Worldspace Corp. providing fixed-location satellite radio to Europe, Asia, and parts of Africa. However the technology didn't take off in the US until 1992, when the Federal Communications Commission established the Digital Audio Radio Service (DARS) which allocated certain segments of radio frequency for satellite broadcast.Two companies bid for and won licences to broadcast in the allotted frequencies: American Mobile Radio, which later become XM Radio, paid $93 million for licensing, and Sirius Satellite Radio forerunner CD Radio paid $89 million. XM made its nationwide debut in 2...
Read More