XM Satellite Radio Hit By Temporary Outage

By Mike Musgrove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

XM Satellite Radio was off the air for many subscribers yesterday.

The company experienced a technical problem that triggered an outage lasting most of the day, causing many listeners across the country to lose access to its programming.

The company blamed a software glitch for the interruption and did not say how many listeners lost their connections. XM subscribers pay $12.95 per month for access to more than 100 stations.

David Cavossa, executive director of the Satellite Industry Association said that satellites occasionally experience outages. "These are very complex machines," he said. "Once they're launched we can't just send the Maytag repairman up there."

Eric Gregerson, an XM subscriber, said he was listening to ESPN Radio at his office in Crystal City when the signal started cutting in and out and finally dropped off at 11:30 a.m. Gregerson said he had never noticed this sort of disruption in the two years he has subscribed to XM.

"It's definitely been different having silence around the office," said Gregerson, an employee of the U.S. Marshals Service. "I'm usually listening to something."

The satellite service didn't post any information about the outage to its Web site for most of the day. Many XM subscribers instead turned to independent Web sites such as XMFan.com, where the outage was the main topic. At the site, rumors about a possible cause ranged from solar flares to satellite hardware problems.

Wall Street did not appear to care. XM stock closed at $11.14, up about 2.5 percent.

Analyst William Kidd of Wedbush Morgan Securities wrote in a note to investors that he did not see much reason for XM shareholders to worry. "We are operating under the assumption that the satellite will soon resume broadcasting, making this issue a non-event."

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