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Maxar to build two new satellites for SiriusXM

A rendering of the forthcoming SiriusXM 9 satellite.
A rendering of the forthcoming SiriusXM 9 satellite. (Rendering courtesy Maxar Technology, Graphic by The Desk)

Maxar Technologies says it has received purchase orders from SiriusXM Pandora for the construction of two new satellites that will be used for the digital radio and datacasting service.

The geostationary satellites will be SXM 11 and SXM 12, and will help provide more capabilities to SiriusXM’s fleet, a spokesperson for the Colorado-based Maxar said on Wednesday.

“This investment reaffirms our commitment to satellite content delivery systems and cutting-edge technology,” Bridget Neville, SiriusXM’s senior vice president of satellite and terrestrial engineering and operations, said in a statement. “SXM 11 and SXM 12…will allow us to innovate and improve our service offerings for subscribers and will extend the continuous and reliable delivery of our audio entertainment content.”

The new purchase order comes after SiriusXM signed an agreement last year that will see Maxar design and develop two other geostationary satellites, SXM 9 and SXM 10.

“These satellites will provide more capability to SiriusXM’s fleet, including an expanded service area and higher service quality. We continue to push for new ways to expand capability for commercial geostationary customers, keeping our leadership in this market secure and growing,” Chris Johnson, Maxar’s senior vice president of space, said on Wednesday.

A SiriusXM spokesperson said there are currently more than 150 million vehicles on the road that are equipped with technology capable of receiving one or more SiriusXM services, including SiriusXM’s newest line of radios called SiriusXM 360L, which combines SiriusXM’s satellite radio with its streaming service.

An analysis by The Desk of SiriusXM’s subscriber figures reported in quarterly financial disclosures found that around 75 percent of cars with a SiriusXM tuner do not have an active satellite radio subscription. That information was based on SiriusXM’s affirmation that it has around 34 million subscribers who are paying a promotional rate or full price for the service.

While SiriusXM has pushed more into streaming radio and other forms of digital and on-demand audio, the satellite orders between it and Maxar have reaffirmed SiriusXM’s commitment to providing satellite-based digital radio and datacasting services over the long-term.

Maxar has built the majority of SiriusXM’s satellite fleet over the company’s history. The majority of Maxar’s satellite systems have an anticipated life span of well over a decade.

Last year, the company affirmed one of its SiriusXM satellites, SXM 7, was declared a total loss shortly after it launched.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).