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XM, Raytheon Test Emergency Communications System

XM, Raytheon Test Emergency Communications System

XM may be playing a new role soon, that of a military information network.
RW Online has reported in the past that XM was working on developing a way to use its satellites to help emergency personnel communicate during crises and that it participates in a planning group developing ways to keep stations on the air or to recover operations quickly during a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
Now Associated Press reports that XM and Raytheon are testing the Mobile Enhanced Situational Awareness Network, a dedicated channel on XM’s satellite network accessible only on receivers given to emergency military personnel. The receivers are more rugged than consumer radios.
XM’s digital transmissions have enough bandwidth to carry data with maps and other images, displayed on portable computers that plug into satellite receivers. Just like XM’s consumer receivers, the military receivers are addressable, so individual users can receive messages specific to a certain area.
Raytheon has designed a similar system with WorldSpace that debuted in March during tsunami-relief efforts, according to the AP report.
XM and Sirius already each have a channel dedicated to emergency broadcasts and carry Amber Alerts.
The report quotes Raytheon executives as saying MESA testing is likely to take several months, with possible government procurement next year.