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XM Satellite Postpones Service In San Diego, Dallas

Satellite radio company XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. said on Tuesday it postponed the launch of its commercial service in San Diego and Dallas, scheduled for Wednesday, in the wake of hijacked airplane attacks on New York and Washington.

XM Satellite had planned to launch the service on Sept. 12 and expand nationally by November. It aimed to provide U.S. car listeners with 100 channels of digital music, news, sports and talk channels via satellite.

“Due to today’s national tragedy, XM Satellite Radio has postponed the launch of its commercial service,” the company said in a statement.

XM Satellite has been trying to win from federal regulators temporary licenses to use ground-based repeaters to deliver its digital radio service to subscribers, despite the protests of mobile phone carriers who argued the service would interfere with airwaves they hold.

XM Satellite has two satellites in orbit. It needs ground repeaters, however, to bounce the signal from the satellites to the actual receivers which provide service to hard-to-reach areas like New York City, where skyscrapers block direct lines of sight.

The use of such repeaters has drawn fire from telephone companies which hold spectrum on both sides of the airwaves used by the satellite providers. BellSouth Corp. and AT&T Wireless Services Inc. have complained that the repeating signals would interfere with their spectrum.

XM Satellite last month launched a $100 million national advertising campaign to publicize its $9.95 a month service, for which it expected to sign up about 50,000 to 60,000 subscribers by the end of the year.

The launch of satellite radio programming has been long anticipated. XM Radio and its archrival, Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., have been racing to be first to market with the service and sign partnership agreements with car makers. Sirius expects to launch its service in the fourth quarter.

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