TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Iridium II: Is Satellite Radio Doomed?

Re: Iridium II: Is Satellite Radio Doomed?

Walter Dnes (
18 Mar 2005 02:44:20 GMT

On Wed, 16 Mar 2005 19:15:10 -0500, Gene S Berkowitz,
<> wrote:

> In article <>, Walter Dnes (delete the
> 'z')<> says:

> You have your bandwidth calculations all wrong. The satellites (and
> the US domestic "networks" only have two and three birds,
> respectively) are continuously streaming all ~100 channels. When you
> make a net connection, you are consuming a large portion of you
> available network bandwidth. Should everyone on your neighborhood
> subnet attempt this, you'll reach saturation. The satellite broadcast
> doesn't care if there's 1 or 1 billion receivers.

Internet multi-casting is the next step. It isn't being used because
it isn't needed right now. I can see it being adopted if/when
"regular" internet radio (and especially TV) starts straining the
system. As it is, Bit-Torrent and other file-sharing programs are the
number 1 bandwidth user.

On 17 Mar 2005 04:11:54 -0000, John Levine, <> wrote:

> Actually, long distance rates plummeted more due to regulatory
> changes and fiber optics than to competition. For the past
> century long distance had been deliberately overpriced to subsidize
> local service and (in places with PTTs) other bits of government
> bureaucracy. The mistake there was not to realize that with a
> stroke of a pen those subsidies could be and were removed, which
> is the main reason that a call from the US to the UK or Hong Kong
> now costs 2 cpm rather than a dollar.

Actually, satellites helped cut long distance rates in two ways:

1) being cheaper than land (actually under the ocean) lines.

2) you mentioned the subsidy factor. Years ago, before deregulation,
big companies would lease dedicated channels via satellite to
carry internal phone traffic between widely separated offices
(e.g. New York to LA). This was cheaper than calling long
distance during business hours.

> Satellite really broadcasts, but internet radio fakes it with a
> separate connection to each recipient. (There is real Internet
> multicasting but it's a pain to set up and is only used in the geek
> community to broadcast IETF meetings and the like.) With broad,
> the question is how you get the same one-way signal to lots of
> recipients.

> This means that it's a question of scale. With the current low
> numbers of listeners, Internet has the edge as you note due to its
> parasitic carriage.

Once internet radio (and especially TV) becomes more than a minor
traffic blip, and overtakes Bit-Torrent and friends as the number 1
bandwidth user, multicasting will become more widespread. As for
being a pain to set up, Windows is a pain to install. Joe Sixpack may
not be able to do so, but his PC comes with Windows pre-installed.
Once PCs start coming with multi-cast reception enabled
out-of-the-box, it'll take off.

> I think the real outcome will depend on questions like whether the
> satellite radio stations are able to bribe car makers to install
> receivers as standard equipment in cars so users need only call up
> and subscribe, no installation or visible startup cost involved.
> It'd be like cell phones are now, using the equipment as a loss
> leader made up from subscription revenue. It looks to me like the
> incremental cost of a Sirius or XM receiver and antenna would be
> about $100 which is well within the range that cell plans subsidize.

I don't think the subsidized-cellphone analogy is valid. Verizon
etal, "subsidize" cellphones *ONLY FOR CUSTOMERS WHO ENTER A CELLPHONE
SERVICE CONTRACT*. Subsidizing satellite-radio receivers on *ALL
CARS* in order to get subscribers from only a small percentage, is not
an economically viable business plan.

All it takes is for one car producer to not make it standard, and
they can undercut their competitors, who won't dare end up looking like
they're trying to ram it down customers' throats. Look at FM radio. It
had to be legislatively mandated into all car radios in many countries.
This is not going to happen with satellite radio. There aren't any
"free" satellite radio stations and there isn't a generic satellite
radio reciever that will work with Sirius, XM, and all other competing
services. I don't see governments mandating any one specific service in
all cars.

Walter Dnes; my email address is *ALMOST* like
Delete the "z" to get my real address. If that gets blocked, follow
the instructions at the end of the 550 message.

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