The company was initially called American Mobile Satellite Corporation. During its life, it was a corporation dedicated to the satellite broadcasting of telephone signals and fax signals. In 1999, it was spun off into a new entity. During this time, the company also specialized in the satellite broadcasting of data signals. This company eventually became known as XM Satellite Radio Holdings, Inc.
When a receiver owner hears the name XM, it generally refers to the XM satellite radio service. As the service launched in 2001, it had about 1,000 terrestrial repeaters that transmit in the same frequency band as the XM satellites. However, this number has been significantly reduced.
The XM satellite radio service was designed to provide gap-free coverage throughout the contiguous United States. Using two high-powered satellites, XM provided digital programming from geostationary orbit. With the help of Neural Audio processors, XM preprocessed the audio before it was broadcast. They also transmitted coded traffic information directly to vehicle navigation systems.
The company"s broadcast signal was received in the majority of Mexico. However, they are not licensed to provide paid subscribers in that country.
Clear Channel Communications invested in XM in 1998. XM acquired exclusive programming rights to Clear Channel content. At the same time, they entered into an agreement with Clear Channel to use certain channels and programming to promote their service.
As part of the deal, XM granted Clear Channel the right to program 409.6 kbit/s of XM bandwidth. Besides providing the talk and music channels, they also had the right to commercial advertising on the existing music and talk channels. These amounts to about four minutes of advertising per hour.
In 2003, XM underwent a re-capitalization plan that included issuing convertible bonds to a group of private investors. In addition to re-capitalizing XM, they also exchanged $300 million in old debt for new debt. After this, they deferred interest on the notes for three years.
After the deal was completed, XM became the Official Satellite Radio provider of Major League Baseball. They also secured rights to the MLB silhouetted batter logo.
Despite the high quality of the broadcasts, XM has also been criticized for low quality customer service. This has been attributed to a lack of employees. Several third-party developers have received cease and desist letters from the company.
In 2010, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray began investigating Sirius XM complaints. He then approved a merger between the two companies, which became a new corporation named Sirius XM Radio, Inc. His approval set the stage for the final vote.
XM has developed software applications that allow its subscribers to listen to their favorite music and programs on Apple devices. They can even get a copy of the iPhone app for the Apple iTunes store.