How to id XM Radio repeaters

Updated: 10:28PM EST 03/21/2003
Intro  Antenna  Base station  Site list  References

This is a non-commerical web page and site. The use of proper names on this web page are solely for the purpose of identification and NOT affiliation. None of the entities mentioned on this web page endorse the content contained on this web page. Information contained in the Introduction section of this web page was found via several publicly available web sites (my sources are listed in the references section). Information found in the antenna and base station sections came from personal observations and travels. Data in the site section is from the application of observations detailed in the antenna and base station sections. Finally, this web site is NOT an attempt to dilute any valued brand names OR trademarks. Yes, this is a sad attempt at CYA but it is needed in today's letigous society. Thank you.


In April of 1997 XM Satellite Radio, then American Mobile Radio Corp., was one of two successful bidders for the two Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) licenses available in FCC Auction #15. XM Radio paid almost $90 million dollars (the FCC says $89,888,888) for license EBN002 while Satellite CD Radio, Inc. (Sirrius) won the other license, EBN001, for about $83.3 million (this time the FCC says $83,346,000).

In 2001 XM satelittes XM-1 & 2 (Roll on 05/08/2001 and Rock on 03/18/2001 respectively) were put into geostationary orbit by Sea Launch. Each Boeing 702 satelitte handling either coast and parts of the central US with an expected service life of 15 years. However, the satelittes are planned for replacement in 10-12 years. A third satelitte is under construction to serve as a backup should one of the existing satelittes fail. This 15 year planned service life is what most media artilces refer to when they wittily mentioned XM Radio as the ``death of of Rock and Roll''.

While XM Radio's two satelittes manage to cover a large chunk of the continental United States and have been authorized by the FCC to increase their broadcast power to 68.5 dBW (FCC File No. SAT-MOD-20000131-00051) there are still problems in high density areas such as northern Virginia. To combat this potential reception problem XM Radio contracted LCC International to design, deploy and manage a network of about 1,000 terrestrial repeaters sites operating between 2332.5-2345 MHz. The plan orginally called for most sites to be located on building rooftops but that was changed in Janurary of 2001 to favor existing tower sites.


Repeater sites make use of atleast two antenna, one to recieve the signal from one of the two orbiting satellites and another to rebroadcast the recieved signal. The reciever antenna looks like a bent toadstool and is the most visible part of a rooftop installtion. The broadcast antenna is most likely made by Til-tek and is the most visible component of a tower installation. Depending on the situation there can be multiple broadcast antenna usually pointed in slightly different directions.

Base station:

Low power repeater sites seem to use a small black box sporting the XM Radio logo. Full power sites use a medium sized grey cabinet most likely made by Lucent. Like the low power repeater boxes, the cabinets also feature an XM Radio logo. The full power repeater cabinets are very similar to remote equipment cabinets deployed by Bell Atlantic to extend service from a nearby central office. The cabinet is normally not visible at rooftop sites but are at most tower installations that one can get closer to.

Site list:

But below is a list of repeater sites in the Virginia and Washington, D.C. area to serve as examples of XM repeater installations. Please the water tank site in Manassas has not been confirmed. Also, this list is by no means complete! If you know of a site in Va or DC not listed please drop me a line. Thanks.

Virginia & DC terrestrial repeater network
Alexandria 1320 Braddock Pl., microwave tower on PBS HQ rooftop
Arlington Co. 5301 N. 22nd St., AT&T Corp. microwave tower
Fairfax Co. end of Old Arrington La., WPXW-TV tower
1751 Pinnacle Dr., First Union rooftop
Skyline (red striped, glass bldg.) rooftop
11800 Sunrise Valley Dr., Reston International Centre rooftop
end of Verstar Ct., by I-95/495 split
3900 Augustine St., next to WKDL-AM
Falls Church Hillwood Ave., WFAX-AM tower
Hampton 1008 N. Park La.
Newmarket Creek swamp next to WBYM-AM tower
Henrico Co. Carolina Ave., next to Richmond Int'l Raceway
Manassas 8731 Quarry Rd., water tank (gone as of 12/30/2002?)
9431 Stonewall Rd., Norfolk Southern microwave tower
Virginia Beach 1 Columbus Ctr., 1 Columbus Ctr. rooftop
205 34th St., Mayflower Seaside Apts rooftop
1240 Baker Rd.
leftmost tower in Woods Corner towerfarm
York Co. 200 E. Old York Rd.
Washington, D.C. 4623 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Western Union microwave tower
5321 1st Pl. NW new
1500 Eckington Pl. NE, XM Radio corp. office rooftop new
51 N St. NE rooftop, near XM offices new
Pennsylvania Ave., blue rooftop? near NPR studios, before Sousa Bridge

References used:

Valid XHTML 1.0!