Satellite radio is often considered one of the biggest improvements in broadcasting since the introduction of the FM band. Satellite radio is also called subscription radio or pay-radio because it is only available trough subscription to one of the satellite radio providing companies. Satellite radio follows a concept similar to cable television by providing a very wide range of programs which are not available in the traditional FM or AM format for a fee.
Satellite radio uses satellites to deliver radio programs to subscribers. The radio signal is broadcasted from Earth based stations to communicational satellites, which then redirect the signal to satellite radio receivers. The radio signal is broadcasted by communication satellites to a much larger area than traditional terrestrial radio antennas. For example, satellite radio is available al across the continental area of the United States. Satellite radio is available now in most parts of the world trough services provided by companies like WorldSpace (in Europe, Asia and Africa), Sirius and XM Radio (in North America). The radio signal you receive using satellite radio is digital, which means that it is always clear and static-free, which is one of the great advantages of satellite radio. Another great thing about satellite radio is that it is almost completely commercial-free.
To begin listening to satellite radio you will need the actual satellite radio (also known as tuner or receiver), a satellite radio antenna (which is often incorporated in the satellite radio) and a subscription to the service you choose. There are several types of satellite radio from which you can choose. One of them is the dedicated car or home radio, which play trough your car or home stereo. A second option is the plug-and-play radio, which can be used in your car, as well as in your home by paying a single subscription. Your third option is the portable radio, which has rechargeable battery, a built-in antenna and you can listen to it wherever you go using headphones. The radio signals offered by different satellite radio companies are proprietary, which means that you will need different hardware for receiving, decoding and playback, depending on your subscription. Each satellite radio receiver has its own serial number called Radio ID. When you get your subscription, you will also get an activation code for your receiver. Besides the actual radio programs, satellite radio transmits metadata that contains the name of the artist, the title of the song or program, as well as the name of the channel. This makes it easier for you to decide which channel to listen to and which program to choose.
Satellite radio services provide the subscriber with more than 100 programs that vary in content from rock and jazz to rap and classical music. But satellite radio’s utility reaches far beyond listening to your favorite music without the interruption of those annoying commercials. Satellite radio also offers exclusive sports programs, cultural and educational shows, news and talk-shows. Some of the celebrities that have moved their shows from free radio to satellite radio include Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony, Bob Edwards and Martha Stewart. Unlike terrestrial radio, satellite radio is not affected by bad weather or even calamities.
At first, many people wondered why they should pay for radio if they can get it free. However, satellite radio attracts more and more people every year due to its great advantages: no commercials, extensive reach, theme programs and exceptional quality of sound.