Learn Satellite Radio

Satellite radio is actually composed of two Boeing HS 702 satellites orbiting our atmosphere and aptly named Rock and Roll. One is located at approximately 85 degrees west longitude and the other at 115 degrees west longitude. Geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) is about 22,223 miles (35,764 km) above Earth, and is the type of orbit most commonly used for communications satellites. The first satellite to up, Rock, was placed in orbit on March 18, 2001.

Roll followed with its launch on May 8. Satellite radio has a third HS-702 satellite on the ground ready to be launched in case one of the two orbiting satellites break down or fail. Satellite radios station on earth transmits a signal to its two GEO Satellites, which bounce signals back down to the ground. The radio receivers are programmed to receive and unscramble the digital data signal, which contains up to 100 channels of digital audio. In addition to the encoded sound, the signal contains additional information about the broadcast.

The artist, song title and category of music are all displayed on the radio. In urban areas, where buildings can block out the satellites signal, broadcasting equipment is supplemented by ground transmitters. Each receiver contains a unique manufacturers chipset. Satellite radio began delivering chipsets to its manufacturing partners in late September or early October of 2000. The chipset consists of two custom integrated circuits designed by STMicroelectronics. Satellite has partnered with Pioneer, Alpine, Clarion, Delphi Delco, Sony and Motorola to manufacture satellite capable car radios.

Each radio receiver uses a tiny, car-phone-sized antenna to receive the digital signal. GM has invested about 100 million dollars in digital satellite radio, and Honda has also created a contract to use these same radios in its cars. General Motors first began installing satellite radio receivers in specific models in late 2000 and early 2001. For approximately twelve dollars per month, subscribers can listen to crystal clear digital sound. For this small price, music aficionados receive up to 100 channels of music, talk and news. They can also listen online via streaming audio service with over 70 channels.

Most of the stations received are commercial-free, with none of the channels having more than seven minutes of ads per hour. Satellite advertisers include USA Today, BBC, CNN-Sports Illustrated and The Weather Channel. The service is clean, clear and more of what the surveyed population asked for.

The future of satellite radio is clearly bright.

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