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XM, Sirius Bow Local Weather, Traffic Services

3/08/2004 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Sirius surprised the industry with the launch of a traffic and weather service on February 29, just one day following the pre-announced launch of XM's traffic and weather service to be rolled out to 21 markets this year.

Sirius' new service has already started broadcasting in Los Angeles and New York and will be extended to 18 additional markets within the next 30 days. The company is devoting 10 channels to the service, so that two markets share each channel. Round the clock, continuously updated reports for Los Angeles and New York, for example, are broadcast on channel 150.

This new "audio broadcast" traffic and weather service differs from the "data-only" service Sirius demonstrated in January at the International CES in Las Vegas. Sirius originally showed a map-based data delivery service that would offer varying levels of "predictive traffic" data. A spokesman said Sirius is still looking to offer this "data-based" service in the future.

By the end of March, Sirius traffic and weather also will be extended to Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco-San Jose, Boston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Washington, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Seattle, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Phoenix, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Baltimore and San Diego, said the company.

Sirius has partnered with SmartRoute Systems, a Westwood One company, for traffic information and The Weather Channel for weather reports. Its system is called Sirius First Traffic.

XM's new service, called XM Instant Traffic and Weather launched in Washington on February 28 and in 14 additional markets on March 1, including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Tampa, Orlando, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Channels for six additional markets, including Boston, Atlanta, Miami, Minneapolis, Seattle and San Diego, will air this year, with Boston kicking off April 1. XM's system provides a single channel for each region.

XM has partnered with Mobility Technologies for traffic reports and with The Weather Channel for weather information.

Both companies said they rely on traffic reports generated by aircraft, traffic cameras, ground reporters and other sources.