WorldSpace® partners with STMicroelectronics for European satellite digital radio chips
June 18th, 2008

STMicroelectronics, has recently signed an agreement with WorldSpace® Satellite Radio to develop, manufacture and distribute chips for European Satellite Digital Radio (ESDR) receivers planned for a WorldSpace pan-European and Middle East service offering, starting with Italy in 2009.

The agreement between WorldSpace and ST is expected to lead to the first fully integrated device for channel decoding in ESDR receivers. Based on an open ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) standard, the ESDR technology enables WorldSpace to employ a hybrid satellite-terrestrial network, where its satellites deliver broad geographical coverage at low cost, while terrestrial transmitters improve reception quality in urban and suburban areas.

WorldSpace Satellite Radio’s service offering will include 40-50 channels of commercial-free music, news, sports, talk and other personalized programming such as traffic, navigation and music downloads directly from the satellite, to each of its markets in Europe. The Company intends to launch its European service, beginning with Italy, in 2009, followed shortly thereafter by other major European and Middle East countries including Germany, Switzerland, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Designed using state-of-the-art CMOS technology, the new ST channel decoder device delivers high system integration and low current consumption. The chip is being tailored to ensure optimal reception in harsh conditions and to make maximum use of the available frequency spectrum.

In addition to the channel decoder, ST will provide three additional chips for WorldSpace digital radio receivers: a super-heterodyne RF tuner, a device for non-volatile secure data storage and the automotive version of ST’s Nomadik application processor. This ‘automotive grade’ chipset will handle the complete RF and base-band tasks, meeting the car industry’s stringent requirements for integration into OEM systems as well as after-market radio receivers.

These first ESDR satellite radio receivers will be available throughretail stores and other aftermarket venues in the first half of 2009, followed shortly by OEM versions. Fiat Group Automobiles was the first to sign a distribution agreement with WorldSpace for both aftermarket and OEM receivers for certain of its Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Lancia models starting next year.

Data suggests the European market for satellite radio is similar to that of the US market where today, there are approximately 18 million subscribers nationwide. European countries targeted by WorldSpace (Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, UK, France, Turkey and Poland) represent a combined population of approximately 420 million people and 180 million automobiles.

(Source: Worldspace)