XM back after 24-hour outage

Published May 23, 2007

XM Satellite Radio restored service Tuesday after a software glitch knocked out the signal from one of its four satellites and disrupted service to many of the company's 8-million subscribers for about a day.

The problems began around noon Monday, the company said. They initially expected to fix the problem after a few hours but service remained disrupted for about 24 hours.

"The problem occurred during the loading of software to a critical component of our satellite broadcast system, which resulted in a loss of signal from one of our satellites, " the company said on its Web site.

It is still not clear exactly how many of XM's customers were affected by the outage. Internet message boards indicated the problem was widespread.

XMFan.com, a Web site used by XM subscribers, first began receiving reports of outages early Monday. Subscribers who said they were in Washington state, New York, Florida and Canada reported outages on the site.

The company apologized to customers in a brief statement Tuesday.

"Normal levels of service have resumed for customers who experienced outages or significantly degraded service, " the company said in an e-mailed statement.

XM customers pay about $13 a month for the service.

XM has four satellites built by Boeing Co. and launched between 2001 and 2006. The first two experienced significant problems and are now regarded as "in-orbit spares, " according to the company's annual report.

RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank said the problem will become an issue for investors if subscribers begin to turn away from the service.

"We'll have to find out exactly what happened, whether it's a systemic problem or just a fluke, " Bank said Tuesday morning.

The real concern would be if the problems result in lost subscribers, called "churn" in the industry, Bank said, but it is too early to tell if that will happen.

Washington-based XM and competitor Sirius Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. are trying to combine.