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WorldSpace-ST tandem eyes digital radio chips for Europe

Posted: 19 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:digital radio chip? tandem WorldSpace ST? Europe ESDR?

STMicroelectronics has recently signed an agreement with WorldSpace Satellite Radio, a satellite-based digital radio service provider, 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.

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 requirements for integration into OEM systems as well as after-market radio receivers.

These first ESDR satellite radio receivers will be available through retail stores and other aftermarket venues in 1H 09, 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.

"WorldSpace and STMicroelectronics have a long-standing relationship and we are very pleased to continue that relationship through this agreement," said Noah Samara, chairman and CEO, WorldSpace. "This agreement is another milestone on the path to providing a truly unique satellite radio experience throughout Europe, beginning with Italy. STMicroelectronics brings a long history of excellence in satellite radio endeavors to the table and their experience with the automotive qualification process and chip production should help propel our success in Europe, the Middle East and potentially other market when we are ready to roll out."

"We are pleased to play a key role in the introduction of WorldSpace's digital satellite radio service to European consumers," said Domenico Rossi, VP of ST's automotive product group. "This important agreement marks twelve years for ST at the forefront of digital radio technology. We were the first to fit a complete digital satellite decoding circuit onto a single chip and have developed considerable expertise in mastering the entire radio receiver system from the RF to the baseband signal processing. Our contribution to Worldspace's efforts in Europe draws on the success of satellite digital radio in the U.S., where the majority of receivers is powered by ST chips."

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