Saturday, November 20, 2010

Satellite Radio: What Is It?

By Owen Jones

Satellite radio has in fact been around for quite some time, but it was inaccessible to many people because the stations that were broadcasting were pretty obscure, the apparatus was costly and the arials, normally in the form of dishes were extremely directional, which meant you needed to use expensive, experienced installers.

For proof of this you need look no further than bookmakers and betting shops who needed specialized satellite broadcasts beamed to their establishments with the results of the races live.

The difference now is in cost and the power of the satellite radio transmission units in addition to the receivers. In other words, satellite radio technology has progressed a long way since the Eighties. Satellite radio can also be received more easily nowadays, although the reception of satellite TV broadcasts still requires a directional receiving dish. This is why satellite TV cannot be received well on a boat or in a car, but you can still get satellite radio and you can still use your cell phone.

Satellite radio broadcasts are digital so most of the advantages of using it are associated with digital technology. Some of these are: the capacity to pick up signals from all around the wold through the satellite network and the loss off interference - that annoying hiss that you often got at night while listening to a distant broadcast. Reception is now invariably crystal clear owing to the uncomplicated means that is digital - on and off or high and low.

Digital only makes use of two signals so they are not possible to mix up, whereas analogue needed millions of them allowing for mistakes due to bad weather or / and bad apparatus. That has been basically eradicated.

The state of affairs in the US is that there is still competition between two contrasting systems: XM and Sirius and it is to be hoped that this situation will soon be resolved as it was thirty years ago between VHS and Betamax, because otherwise it will only be the public who lose out in the end - the clients of the firm that goes bankrupt.

There were originally problems with satellite radio in some areas because natural or man-made structures would block the line of sight from the antenna or dish to the satellite resulting in a break in transmission. Typical reasons for this would be tunnels, mountains and sky scrapers.

However, the satellite radio service providers soon came up with a solution to the problem by bouncing the signal from the airborne satellite off terrestrial dishes, in other words, reflecting them at closer to ground level, thereby providing satellite radio to millions of inner city dwellers.

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