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Wednesday, August 17, 2005


There has been a sudden upsurge in the advertisements for WorldSpace Satellite Radio of late and I must pitch in with my two bits for the benefit of humanity and our feathered friends. My demystification follows the tech-spiel.

"""""""WorldSpace uses its two satellites, AfriStar™ and AsiaStar™, to broadcast more than 100 digital-quality audio channels to people around the world who want world-class programming that is not available or rarely found on local regional or national terrestrial radio.
Each satellite has three beams and each beam is able to send up to 80 channels directly to portable satellite radios. Inside each WorldSpace digital satellite radio is a proprietary chipset designed to lock onto the WorldSpace satellite signal in your region of the world.No other option provides the variety of programming that WorldSpace offers. Also, each WorldSpace satellite radio is equipped with a data port that transforms it into a wireless modem able to download data to personal computers at rates of up to 128kbps. Thus, the WorldSpace satellite radio can also broadcast multimedia content.
The WorldSpace digital satellite signal means no fading, noise or interference. The system delivers high quality digital sound in a coverage area of 14 million square kilometers. As long as you're in line of sight with the satellite, you'll never lose the WorldSpace signal."""""

So far, so good!

The contraption necessitates an antenna that faces outwards—juts outside the window, preferably in a South Easterly direction. I have not come across too many instances where it has worked off the pocket receiver set and hence most sets are accompanied by wires that stare meaningfully into space.

As of now, India receives 39 channels –many overseas channels are “pay” as of now—Bloomberg, ABC, Fox Sports are yet unavailable. The variety is non pareil –Rock, R & B, Pop, Country, Trance, Jazz, Hip hop, Classical form the Western repertoire and Regional channels , Hindi film, News & analysis, Carnatic & Hindustani bolster the Indian offering. Content is uploaded from specialized stations and there are little or no advertising throughout the 24*7 broadcasts. Each receiver set has an encryption password and is hence non-transferable. The entire gadgetry and Annual Subscription License will set one back by over six grand, with better and sleeker sets this could go up too.

Expectedly not many takers in India so far, only about 60,000 and climbing. The lack of portability is a huge negative, which is not likely to rectify itself because of the technology. Most certainly not for a dilettante, but for a person who’d prefer the radio to the idiot box, a Godsend.
A word of caution- we can never guess what the Mandi House menagerie is up to, so this entire musical universe could be banned overnight on technical grounds. Never mind, we'd still have a Yagi antenna, and freed window space

So if anyone has a query or would like to hear this, you know what to do. Just make sure you don’t disturb the pigeons ensconced on the antenna !


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