Satellite Radio Companies Work for Unified Standard

Satellite radio got a boost toward wider market acceptance on February 16, when Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio announced an agreement to develop a unified standard for satellite radios. The current batch of satellite receivers can pick up transmissions from one of the providers, but not both. The next generation of receivers will expand the technology's reach by enabling reception of both companies' broadcasts.

The two have come to the realization that they must cooperate if the satellite radio sector is to grow. Sirius and XM Radio will combine their research and development efforts and jointly fund development of the technology. Each company will contribute its intellectual property to the initiative. Any patent litigation will be resolved as quickly and amicably as possible, executives stated. "This standard is good news both for consumers and for the category," said Sirius CEO David Margolese and XM president Hugh Panero in a joint statement. "This will allow for reduced subscriber acquisition costs, more satellite radios in the marketplace, and a simplified choice for consumers."

Both XM Radio and Sirius are creating digital satellite radio services with up to 100 channels for a monthly subscription fee of $9.95. They are working toward integrating the new standard into mobile products as quickly as possible, and emphasized that all future agreements with automakers and radio partners will specify the new satellite radio standard. The vast majority of radio listening now takes place in automobiles.

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