More on Tivo for Radio


Thinking more about the future of mobile audio (see Tivo for Radio Entry) I start to wonder if XM and Sirius satellite radio are doomed propositions. They seem like a good idea, nationwide radio, 100 channels, many commercial-free.

But how many of the stations does any given listener actually use? I would guess most people only listen to a few of them, just as they only listen to a few on the local dial.

And more to the point, how many need to be live? Very few. Certainly not the classical stations or other music stations. Generally only news, sports and (localized) traffic and weather need to be truly live. Political talk shows should be current though need not be live.

So what this means is that the satellite systems may be way overdone for bandwidth. One might attain all one wants from Satellite Radio with the hard disk based car-audio system, which by 802.11 sucks down all the new content it needs when in the driveway (or when near an authorized 802.11 node.) The live content can come from conventional radio, or the sideband on a TV station or other local transmitter.

(The local radio stations might not be willing to assist so readily in their own demise.)

The selection of Internet Radio blows away even satellite radio. Combined with your own personal music collection it's a no-brainer. The quality is just fine for use in a car. XM an Sirius proudly boast they have 3 classical stations, 3 jazz stations, whatever. Internet radio has hundreds of each type of station, as well as custom stations.

One could build an equivalent satellite network buying just a few hundred kilobits of bandwidth (for all the live talk, sports and news stations, which can use higher compression codecs as they are just talk) from satellites if you need the coast to coast coverage on the live data, or piggyback on other platforms if you just need the major areas.

You could also cut deals with 802.11 hotspot owners to let cars driving by quickly pick up more live news and talk. You laugh, but if you are in range of 5 megabits for 10 seconds, that's enough for 40 minutes of 20kbit talk radio.

XM and Sirius need to pay for a hugely expensive satellite infrastructure. Did they overbuild?


Remember far back off in the mists of ancient time when we were never going to have to suffer typos from printed source listings again because it would all be in barcode and we'd just have to scan it in?

I get the same sort of feeling from satellite radio.

I do agree that on the surface the satellite propostion seems like overkill, but someone is paying the 9.95 one million times over. The satellite systems also have the ability to send data as well. Also,they apparently have trials for video shorts that are to be forthcoming this year.

But, I would accept an ad or two or three to receive the free content that I want or need. Demographically, we are all identifiable anyway. so what would it hurt if I were to receive NPR at BP's and jazz at the local stop and go, and everyone knew it. It would certainly be possible via GPS to provide localized ad content to a willing audience. Say I like modern furniture, I am traveling and would like to check out the local goods. I would not mind at all if in exchange for my ad provided content I was forced to listen to a local ad based on my current like and dislikes. There is a patent on this type of thing, but no one apparently has the guts or the substance to use it.

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