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XM's Parent To Offer Broadband, Push-To-Talk Service

Mobile Satellite Ventures, the parent company of XM Radio, will expand the digital audio broadcast network to support two-way voice and broadband data service, MSV senior vice president Lon Levin said Tuesday at a National Space Symposium panel on emerging satellite services.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV) will expand the digital audio broadcast network to support two-way voice and broadband data service, MSV senior vice president Lon Levin said Tuesday (April 5) at a National Space Symposium panel on emerging satellite services.

The network will be offered to civil and police "first responders" initially, but the company has every intention to turn it into a commercial service, Levin said.

Satellite radio systems providers have been hindered in part by the inability of the satellite signal to penetrate buildings in urban environments. Some petitioned the FCC to solve that problem by building a network of repeater base stations in urban areas called Ancilliary Terrestrial Components," Levin said.

After the fact, MSV realized that combining the new ATC stations with higher-performance satellites would allow the expansion to a push-to-talk network competing with such Enhanced Specialized Mobile Radio networks as Nextel. The service would be continent-wide, and support more than 10,000 talk groups in its push-to-talk architecture.

Levin said that current devices are the size of a laptop, but as design integration moves client hardware down as the new satellites improve service; the second-generation phones would be the size of digital cellular phones. Data services could be handled from platforms the size of current generations of PDAs, Levin said.