Because the interoperable issue is the topic of discussion and debate, there are a few things that I thought would be prudent so that discussions can have clear meaning and confusion can be avoided. Interoperable as a term is loosely used, and because of this sometimes confusion happens.
1. "Dual Mode" Receiver - a receiver capable of receiving the signals of Sirius, XM, or both at the same time
2. "Switchable" Receiver - A receiver capable of receiving either Sirius or XM, but not both services at the same time.
3. "Gateway" Receiver - A receiver capable of one switch only. i.e. Sirius receiver that can convert to XM, but can never be switched back.
All of the above receivers could have been in compliance with the interoperable mandate depending on how it is defined by regulators. Th functions of such receiver differ dramatically though.
What has been argued is that there were points in time when "switchable" receivers were manufactured. However, the FCC license on these receivers dictates a 12.5 MHz swath of spectrum, and not the whole 25 MHz. If the receivers are switchable, they would still need FCC approval to receive the other segment of spectrum. This approval could be easy, but could also be difficult. It all depends on the regulators. Existing receivers labeled to receive only one service would need to be relabeled, or the FCC would have to authorize the update.
In the end, the companies have certified compliance with the interoperable mandate, and the FCC has not ruled either way.
Often the discussion centers around the "intent" of the mandate. In point of fact, it can be argued that the "intent" does not matter. What matters is how the governing body defines the mandate NOW. For decades there has been debate about the intent of the founding fathers on the right to bear arms. Their intent does not matter. What matters is how a judge today defines the right. That definition can vary from decade to decade, or even from state to state.
What needs to be considered is whether the merger is beneficial going forward. Activities and definitions of the past are just that....the past. Can the merger deliver public benefit going forward? THAT IS THE IMPORTANT QUESTION.