Sirius XM Delivers A La Carte Early

By Amy Gilroy On Oct 13 2008 - 6:00am

Sirius XM's first radio to offer A La Carte service, the Starmate 5, went on sale Oct. 2, four days ahead of schedule, at a suggested retail of $129, at Best Buy, Crutchfield, RadioShack and regional retailers, as Sirius XM began airing the programming service that lets consumers choose 50 radio stations at a discounted $6.99/month.

The Starmate 5 is a plug-and-play Sirius radio with a TiVo-like memory buffer that lets consumers rewind through up to 44 minutes of live satellite radio. It also has an FM transmitter to connect to the car's sound system. The Starmate 5, thus far, is the only model that can receive the new A La Carte service.

The A La Carte plan is available in two versions. The basic package lets consumers choose 50 Sirius stations at a $6.99 monthly fee, but users cannot mix and match between Sirius and XM selections. A second service, called A La Carte Gold, lets customers choose 100 channels with some mixing and matching between Sirius and XM. The fee for the Gold service is $14.99, which is slightly higher than the standard XM or Sirius monthly charge of $12.95.

Sirius XM said an XM version of the A La Carte radio is "under consideration," but there is no firm time table for its release, according to a spokesman.

Sirius XM also began offering Best of Both and additional service plans. Best of Both programming lets XM listeners receive some Sirius channels, including Howard Stern's channels, and some XM channels, including Oprah & Friends. The plan costs subscribers an extra $4 a month above the normal $12.95/month charge.

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