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XM Commences 'Soft Launch'

XM Satellite Radio commenced a nationwide soft launch test program this week, deploying dozens of teams of testers equipped with XM radios to more than 20 markets across the country, in preparation for its commercial service launch later this summer.

With both its high-powered satellites broadcasting from their final geostationary positions, XM is road-testing the XM Experience utilizing selected testers comprised of employees and business partners across the nation. Last week, the company launched a newly updated website that allows consumers to test the channels XM will offer, as well as a search function to locate retailers selling XM-capable radio units.

“This is the first step in a multi-staged XM launch preparedness effort,” said XM President and CEO Hugh Panero in a company announcement. “We now have teams of people listening to XM content originating from our Broadcast Center distributed nationally by our two high-powered satellites and received on XM radios in 20 markets. The testers are providing feedback as we put our system through its paces in preparation for a commercial launch later this summer.”

XM plans to offer about 100 channels consisting of both commercial and commercial-free signals, with programming ranging from music, news, sports, talk, comedy, and children’s shows.

XM’s second satellite, “Roll,” which was launched on May 8, was formally handed over to XM by Boeing Satellite Systems last month and began broadcasting as part of the preparation for XM’s commercial launch. XM said that the companies two satellites are performing “beyond expectations.”

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