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You’ll never be bored on a drive again when your vehicle has satellite radio

What is satellite radio?

Satellite radio is a digital radio service that is broadcast via orbiting satellites to an extremely wide area. It was first introduced in Canada in 2005, several years after the technology launched in the U.S. and Japan.

How does satellite radio differ from tuning into local radio stations?

Satellite radio uses very different technology than local radio stations. Traditional AM and FM radio stations broadcast content using towers and a specific frequency to a local area. Anyone with an AM/FM receiver who is within range can pick up these broadcasts. For decades, virtually every vehicle sold in Canada has been equipped with AM/FM radio as part of its factory sound system.

Satellite radio is a digital signal that reaches across the country. A special satellite radio receiver is required to pick up the signal, and a subscription is required to descramble and listen to the content. The signal includes metadata, so the receiver can display album art, song titles and other information. Satellite is often an upgrade option for new vehicles, but you can easily add the capability to any car, truck or minivan by installing a third-party satellite radio receiver.

Benefits of satellite radio

Satellite radio is popular because it has many benefits over traditional AM/FM radio.

While traditional radio offers a limited number of stations within any area, satellite radio delivers hundreds of channels. They range from specialty offerings like comedy, sports or holiday music to different genres of music from specific decades. Because they are not subject to the same broadcasting regulations as traditional radio, satellite radio channels may offer content that includes subject matter and language that would not be permitted on AM/FM channels— some satellite receivers include optional parental locks for these channels.

The channel selection remains constant as you drive from city to city across the country, unlike traditional radio stations that will fade and then disappear as you drive out of their broadcast range.

Unlike commercial AM/FM radio stations, Satellite radio channels are usually free of commercials.

What do I need to get started?

In order to enjoy the advantages of satellite radio, you need just two things: a satellite radio receiver and a subscription. While you can buy a head unit with integrated satellite radio service, you can also opt for a standalone receiver (many of which include a display for graphics and channel information) and connect it to your existing car stereo system. In Canada, a satellite radio subscription will be through SiriusXM, with various monthly plans available.

Portable satellite radio

One option that’s popular among upgraders is a portable satellite radio receiver. This is a unit that connects to your car’s stereo system, so you have access to satellite radio channels while driving. When you arrive at your destination, it can be picked up and connected to a home stereo or portable speaker, so you continue to have satellite radio access virtually anywhere you choose.