Satellite radio

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Satellite radio is an analogue or digital radio signal that is relayed through one or more satellites and thus can be received in a much wider geographical area than terrestrial FM radio stations. While in Europe many primarily-FM radio stations provide an additional unencrypted satellite feed, there are also subscription based digital packages of numerous channels that do not broadcast terrestrially, notably in the US. In Europe, FM radio is used by many suppliers that use a network of several local FM repeaters to broadcast a single programme to a large area, usually a whole nation. Many of those have an additional satellite signal that can be heard in many parts of the continent. In contrast, US terrestrial stations are always local and each of them has a unique programme, albeit they are sometimes interconnected for syndicated contents; but each local station still carries its own commercial and news breaks even then. This means that a national distribution of the contents of original terrestrial stations via satellite makes no real sense in the US, wherefore satellite radio is used in a different way there.

Mobile services, such as Sirius, XM, and Worldspace, allow listeners to roam across an entire continent, listening to the same audio programming anywhere they go. Other services, such as Music Choice or Muzak's satellite-delivered content, require a fixed-location receiver and a dish antenna. In all cases, the antenna must have a clear view to the satellites. In areas where tall buildings, bridges, or even parking garages obscure the signal, repeaters can be placed to make the signal available to listeners.

Radio services are usually provided by commercial ventures and are subscription-based. The various services are proprietary signals, requiring specialized hardware for decoding and playback. Providers usually carry a variety of news, weather, sports, and music channels, with the music channels generally being commercial-free.

In areas with a relatively high population density, it is easier and less expensive to reach the bulk of the population with terrestrial broadcasts. Thus in the UK and some other countries, the contemporary evolution of radio services is focused on Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) services or HD Radio, rather than satellite radio.


Business applications

Satellite radio, particularly in the United States, has become a major provider of background music to businesses such as hotels, retail chains, and restaurants. Compared to old-line competitors such as Muzak, satellite radio's significantly lower price, commercial-free channel variety, and more reliable technology make it a very attractive option.[citation needed] Both North American satellite radio providers offer business subscriptions, though given the merger of XM Satellite Radio with Sirius, the future of XM for Business is uncertain. Sirius's commercial services are provided nationally by third-party partner Applied Media Technologies Corporation[citation needed].

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