Satellite Radio Coming to Hawaii
Offer not valid in Hawaii and Alaska. Prices may be higher in Hawaii and Alaska. And yes, Sirius Satellite Radio is not available in Hawaii and Alaska. But that may change.
The FCC has granted conditional approval to Sirius to operate ground-based repeaters to make its programming available in the two U.S. states it has long been unable to reach. It was a request that was first filed in 2006, and was then subject to a prolonged comment period thanks to resistance from traditional radio broadcasters.
Four years later, the FCC has finally given Sirius the green light to set up repeaters in Honolulu, Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. The company will be allowed to operate the limited, 2,000 watt systems while it awaits separate approval to relocate its satellites to directly service both states. Neighbor island listeners, presumably, will have to wait until then to get their fix.
In allowing Sirius to move forward, the FCC dismissed petitions from organizations representing traditional radio. The Hawaii Association of Broadcasters, along with the Alaska Broadcasters Assocation and the National Association of Broadcasters, had asked the FCC to deny the request by Sirius to install equipment on the ground.
Sirius has said that the opposition from traditional broadcasters is simply a fear of competition. But in their petitions, the broadcasting associations said Sirius should buy existing AM or FM stations instead of being allowed to set up their own repeaters.
Sirius says it has always faced opposition, but has long been able to offer listeners in the other 48 states a choice. It says the repeaters are needed to “overcome the effects of satellite signal blockage and multipath interference” in Hawaii and Alaska.
Interestingly, Sirius previously battled a different industry: telecommunications. The frequencies assigned to satellite radio sit squarely in the middle of frequencies used by Wireless Communications Services (WCS). The low-power limitation of the terrestrial repeaters specified in the FCC decision are perhaps one silver lining to both local radio stations and WiMax providers.