In the home, satellite radio faces a challenge — putting the radio where customers want it without running long stretches of antenna cable. To overcome the challenge, Sirius has begun marketing a wired-antenna solution, and Delphi plans to market a wireless XM solution in May.
In March, Directed Electronics began offering a $59 combiner/splitter package that lets an outdoor Sirius antenna share the same RG-6 coaxial cable with a satellite-TV dish. Inside, a splitter plugged into a coax-cable outlet connects to a satellite radio's antenna input.
Delphi's XM Signal Repeater, at a tentative suggested $169, consists of a 915MHz transmitter and companion receiving antenna. Additional receiving antennas will be available at a tentative suggested $70.
The transmitter, which is about 4 inches by 4 inches by 1 inch in size, connects to a consumer's existing flip-up in-home XM antenna, which can be placed where reception is best. The transmitter's power supply is built into a wall wart that plugs into a home's electrical outlets. The receiving antenna, about half the size of a cigarette pack, plugs directly into a tuner's antenna input and gets its power from the tuner.
Other in-door subscription options became available in 2004, when XM began offering its music channels and some talk channels to subscribers' PCs through the Internet and Sirius made its music channels available through the DISH Network satellite-TV service. Sirius also delivers its music channels and some talk channels through the Internet.
This year, XM began including the price of its online subscription into its regular monthly fee, which was raised to $12.95 from $9.95. It's also available separately at $7.99 to nonsubscribers. And during the summer, XM and AOL plan to launch a cobranded online radio service that includes stations from the AOL Radio Network and from XM Radio. The offering includes 20 XM stations plus 130 AOL Radio stations that will be available free on the Web. A premium version includes more than 70 XM stations and more than 130 AOL-developed stations and third-party stations. The premium service will be available to AOL members at no charge and for a monthly fee to nonmembers.