Monday, December 5, 2011

Satellite Radio: How Much Does It Cost?

By Owen Jones

Satellite radio is highly popular these days and it is increasing in popularity more and more every day. If you are not sure what satellite radio is, you can look at it like cable or satellite TV. In essence, satellite radio is a subscription only service. It has a huge assortment of radio stations that are not available on the ordinary AM or FM services.

If you are wondering about how much satellite radio costs, then the answer is the maddening one: it depends. It depends, because there are several variables, such as the apparatus itself, installation fees and monthly fees. Equipment from the countless manufacturers varies a lot as well.

For instance, Bose is more expensive than a Chinese item from Walmart. Installation charges vary depending on where you live and who you use and the monthly fee will depend on which package or bundle you select. So, regrettably, the answer is: it depends.

There is also a one-off 'activation fee'. This costs about $15 if you request it by phone and about $5 if you it over the Internet. However, the push is on to get you signed up, so there are often promotions on doing away with this ridiculous rip-off fee. As if you will not be paying enough in monthly fees for the remainder of your life!

If you want to install satellite radio in your car, you have two alternatives, if your existing radio is not 'satellite ready'. You can either buy a new car stereo that is 'satellite ready' or you can purchase a satellite signal receiver and decoder unit and plug it into your present radio. This decoder can be hidden away under the driver's seat or stashed in the trunk of the car. You will also need a new antenna on the roof.

Costs differ outrageously, but let's average it out at $600 for a good, new, satellite-enabled, ready to go stereo fitted and working or $350 for a cheap system using your own radio, but also ready to receive satellite broadcasts. So, you could say, on average, for about $500 you can be listening to satellite broadcasts.

However, just as with laptop computer prices, demand causes downward pressure on prices and by the time you read this article, the price could have halved. Let's hope so.

Portable satellite radio receivers can be a little cheaper, mostly because there are no installation fees and come out at about $400.

Then there are the monthly subscription charges. As I said above, this depends on the package you choose. The average fee is $10-$15 a month, but specific channels can be extra. For instance, you could get the Playboy channel for free at one time, but the normal cost is $2.95 per month.

Sport may cost more, especially for a finals match. Sometimes, you can get a discount for paying annually and Sirius even has a one-off, lifetime option at $500. Perhaps the best thing to do is keep an eye on the promotional offers and be ready to pounce quickly when a fitting one comes up.

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