WorldSpace, STMicro Sign Deal

Agreement is for European Satellite Digital Radio chips; Samara now targeting 2009 launch in Italy.
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STMicroelectronics will develop, make and distribute chips for European Satellite Digital Radio receivers for WorldSpace.

The latter company is planning a “pan-European” and Middle East service with 40 to 50 channels of commercial-free programming, beginning next year in Italy. Traffic, navigation and music downloads from the satellite are also part of its plan. After Italy, WorldSpace hopes to roll out in Germany, Switzerland, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. It has a deal with Fiat for aftermarket and OEM receivers in some of its upcoming models.

Noah Samara is chairman/CEO of WorldSpace Satellite Radio. He made the announcement with Domenico Rossi, VP of ST’s Automotive Product Group.

The companies said the agreement is expected to lead to the first fully integrated device for channel decoding in ESDR receivers. Their technology is based on a European Telecommunications Standards Institute standard.

Rossi said the majority of satellite digital radios in the United States now use ST chips.

“The ESDR technology enables WorldSpace to employ a hybrid satellite-terrestrial network, where its satellites deliver broad geographical coverage at low cost, while terrestrial transmitters improve reception quality in urban and suburban areas,” the companies stated.

WorldSpace sees a potential market in its Euro target countries of 420 million people and 180 million vehicles. The company has been straining to meet its debt obligations and recently announced an extension in terms from creditors. It has about 170,000 subscribers, most of them in India.


Zaino Joins WorldSpace Italia

Italian radio pioneer Roberto Zaino has joined WorldSpace Italia as its content director. The mobile satellite radio service is set to launch programming across Italy in late 2008.