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Satellite Radio Faces Competition With Rival Technologies

To date, satellite radio stations have had one main rival: traditional radio. Now, just five years after their debut and still fighting to become profitable, XM Satellite Radio and Sirius will be competing with far more than just themselves.

Wireless broadcasting networks, as well as services that let you listen to radio on your PC or download radio wirelessly, are rushing into the market. The big wild card is Apple Computer, maker of the popular iPod digital music player.

Traditional radio stations, catering to some 219 million listeners in the U.S., are responding to satellite radio with a major push into high definition (HD). The technology lets broadcasters stream more channels with a better sound quality.

In December, the nation�s largest broadcasters formed the HD Digital Radio Alliance to promote high definition. The Alliance�s eleven members have committed more than $200 million worth of airtime in 2006 to tell listeners how HD works, which radios to buy, and where to get them. The U.S. has more than 650 HD radio stations today, up form 200 a year ago, and their numbers should reach 1,200 by the end of 2006.

More competition will be forthcoming. Motorola, the world�s second-largest cell-phone maker, plans to start offering a radio service, iRadio, in March. Expected to cost between $7 and $10 a month, iRadio allows owners of cell phones with various technical capabilities to record hours of radio programming from 435 commercial-free channels. Users can download programs from six of the channels by connecting their cell phones to their computer�s USB ports.

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