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Satellite Radio: Compare Sirius to XM Radio

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Like television before it, radio is now available by satellite. Two providers, XM Radio and Sirius offer satellite radio service throughout the continental US.

XM Promos Sirius Promos

What is Satellite Radio?

Basically, it is an additional band for your radio. Unlike AM & FM, which are transmitted from earth-bound transmitters, satellite radio comes primarily from a signal sent via satellites orbiting the earth.

What Programming is Available?

Both Sirius and XM Radio offer over 100 channels (Sirius calls them 'streams') of music, news and entertainment.

Do I Need Satellite Radio?

That's up to you, of course. There are 4 primary differences between satellite radio and the stations provided on traditional radio:

  • Clarity: Satellite radio signals are digital, and the satellites cover the entire continental US. This means channels have no geographic boundaries; you can drive across the country and not encounter static or fade*.
  • Content: With over 100 channels, satellite radio offers far more variety than traditional radio. If your tastes run outside the mainstream, chances are you will still find a channel for it on satellite radio. If you live somewhere that doesn't have many radio stations, you may find yourself overwhelmed, in a positive way, with the number and variety of programming now available to you.
  • Commercials: All the music channels on both XM Radio and Sirius are commercial-free!
  • Cost: While broadcast radio is free, satellite radio is a subscription service. Both XM Radio and Sirius cost $12.95 per month, and offer longer-term subscriptions at reduced rates, and 'family plans', whereby you can activate additional radios at a reduced rate.

* Brief reception loss can occur where your receiver loses site of the satellite. For example, a dense urban area surrounded by high-rise buildings, or some mountain valleys. Note that both services have installed land-based repeaters to minimize this occurrence.