The news yesterday was centered around the iPhone and the rights of people to “jailbreak” their iPhone for use on other networks. It would not seem that such news would impact satellite radio, but an old term familiar to followers of satellite radio was key in the FCC decision to make it “legal” to jailbreak your phone. That word is INTEROPERABILITY.
Interoperability was a key component in the legislation that brought satellite radio to reality years ago. It also became a catch phrase during the merger process when HD Radio wanted a mandate that all satellite radios also include HD Radio. The FCC never acted on that request by HD Radio, but congressman Markey of Massachusetts did introduce legislation that would have made such a requirement law if the bill passed. The bill died a slow death in committee, but on the heels of the FCC decision on jailbreaking, some may get the wild idea that the issue is so important to the FCC that it could be worth another try.
“Apple fought hard against the legalization, arguing that jailbreaking was a form of copyright violation. The FCC disagreed, saying that jailbreaking merely enhanced the inter-operability of the phone, and was thus legitimate under fair-use rules.”
HD Radio has had a tough go of things. While they have been slightly successful in getting into the dashboards of cars, there are signal issues that seem to limit the effectiveness, and many consumers, in a jab at the technology, comment that they now get better sound quality on their commercials. HD is still trying hard, and ad spots on terrestrial radio touting HD can be heard frequently. Some industry analysts think that HD will fall by the wayside before the network is ever big enough to satisfy consumers. It is these shortcomings that merit satellite radio investors paying close attention. I would not put it past Ibiquity to try the legislation route once again. If that happens we at SiriusBuzz will certainly let you know.
Position – Long Sirius XM Radio