The Show Must Go On

The official launch of XM Satellite Radio was set for September 12. But within hours of the September 11 attack on New York and the Pentagon, XM announced that it would be postponing its debut, which was slated to take place in Washington DC at its headquarters and broadcast studio complex.

The new launch date is Tuesday, September 25 and the $9.99 a month service officially begins at 1pm. XM says that its radios can now be purchased at consumer electronics retailers throughout the San Diego and Dallas/Fort Worth areas and that it will activate customers' radios in these markets prior to September 25.

Following the launch, XM says it will expand service throughout the Southwest in mid-October and across the country in November. The company claims that electronics manufacturers will initially offer 24 models of XM radios, including universal models that will enable an existing car stereo system to receive XM service as well as AM/FM/XM systems. So far, XM says that Sony, Alpine and Pioneer radios are being distributed through a variety of retailers. Delphi-Delco systems are also expected to roll out—initially in Cadillac DeVilles and Sevilles beginning in November, expanding to approximately 20 GM models next year. Eventually, the company says it could transmit the programming into consumer's homes via Direct TV.

XM is also reporting that it has received authority from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to activate their nationwide terrestrial network, which the company says is necessary to commence commercial operations. According to XM, The FCC's action gives the company the "Special Temporary Authority" it requested to operate its terrestrial repeaters on a nationwide, non-interference basis until March 18, 2002. By then, XM predicts that the FCC should have completed its rules for permanent operation of repeaters.

The FCC's conditional permission requires that satellite radio companies must reduce the power level or stop using any repeater if wireless operators notify them of interference. XM, and its competitor Sirius Radio, must provide the locations and technical parameters of the repeaters to users of the spectrum.

XM's Hugh Panero says that his company is grateful that the "FCC has moved so expeditiously in the face of the tragic events that have obviously affected all aspects of government. It is important that all US businesses return to some state of normalcy. Now it's time for new businesses like ours to show that the tragic events will not deter us."