WorldSpace is pushing ahead with its plans to roll out satellite radio services to Italy, but its first launch of in-car satellite radio services will be in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
According to Judith Pryor, senior vice president for corporate affairs at WorldSpace, the launch will come “after the heat of the summer.”
“It will be good for us. Bahrain is not a large market, but it is a very wealthy market. … There is at least one automobile per family. … There is nice, flat, open land. And it will be a good test place for us,” Pryor said.
WorldSpace received authorization for the terrestrial repeater networks necessary for mobile services in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in late 2005. The company is working with SamaCom for network operations; SED Systems is manufacturing the repeaters.
The rollout in Bahrain and the UAE differs from what is planned for Italy and the rest of Europe in several ways, most notably the standards involved.
“We are using two different waveforms for our terrestrial distribution business, two different standards. In Europe, we’re following an ETSI standard, which is quite different from the standard we’re going to use in the rest of the world,” said Tedros Lemma, vice president of regulatory affairs for WorldSpace.
Although WorldSpace broadcasts its signals from satellites in geosynchronous orbit, terrestrial repeater networks are needed to ensure service to automobiles, particularly in urban areas where buildings and other structures may block a line-of-sight connection to the satellite.
WorldSpace plans to launch its European service to Italian consumers in 2008, and discussions to expand services across the continent are ongoing with authorities in Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and other nations.