Satellite Radio -- How it Works

If you have ever driven past radio station towers you realize that the further away you go from the transmitter, the weaker the signal. Drive a county or two away and you are left fumbling for new stations on your radio dial.

Satellite radio solves that. By launching geostationary satellites into outer space XM and Sirius are able to pump out digital programming on just over 100 different channels. From commercial-free music to news, entertainment and compelling talk radio, the two satellite stream providers are able to reach you just about anywhere in the continental United States thanks to massive satellites in orbit.

Yes, just about anywhere. The companies have had to install repeaters in various parts of the country to help keep the signal strength strong in places that are typically hard to reach such as city streets blanketed by skyscraper buildings and other pockets of poor reception. It's never a perfect science. Drive through a tunnel or a mountain or an underground parking garage and you may find yourself without a signal for a spell, but the same shortcomings are sometimes found with traditional radio broadcasts.

However, given the quality of the programming and the flexibility to never have to reset your dial as you drive around, even if you prefer the home model, it's an excellent luxury and the first truly great application of the 21st century.

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