Satellite Radio is great for us consumers. It gives us lots of choices for news, sports, comedy, music, weather and so much more. It works almost everywhere except in steep canyon roads and tunnels. Since it does not work in tunnels, this might cause a problem in an emergency. Television and normal radios have the public broadcast system to alert us of emergency; XM Radio can do the same. Only issue is that none of these will work in a highway tunnel.
Recently I drove through the Boston Tunnel after traveling up the East Coast. I noticed after going through several tunnels along the way that the XM Radio cut out. Of course I was not surprised as it is hard to get a signal while underground from a satellite. Yet each time I entered a tunnel, I happened to be listening to a really great song on the 80’s station. The Baltimore Tunnel was not an issue, there was no traffic and I sailed through; no big deal. In New York the tunnel took a little while to travel through due to the traffic, but still a few extra minutes and then the radio was as good as gold again. The real issue was in Boston and the traffic was fierce. I spent nearly 20 minutes in traffic while in the Big Dig, without the radio and had my CD collection in the back and could not get up to get it. This led me to believe there must be a better way. XM Radio has a slight time delay so you can go under highway over passes without cutting into your music or news on any of the over 200 channels. However, when going through long tunnels or in canyons you often miss the signal, as you do not have a direct line of sight to the satellite.
What I propose is one of two options. A.) We allow government agencies to tap into all possible channels of all satellite radio and regular radio stations to play pre-recorded information or B.) We put relays at the ends of such tunnels, which allow all satellite radio users to pick up the signal in the tunnel. If we do option “A” then the government agencies license free of charge the use of those signal frequencies with a caveat for a quick one or two-line commercial along with a public service announcement for instance:
“XM Radio brings you the following statement from the Great State of MerryLand; While traveling in the Baltimore Tunnel please remain in your lane and drive a constant speed of 45-miles per hour when traffic permits. Be observant of drivers around you at all times. If you see anything unusual be sure to call in the information to the Maryland Highway Patrol. Our alert status today is elevated and we rely on you to be our eyes and ears out there. If you see suspicious behavior please call. And thank you for making Maryland a great place, please drive nicely and be courteous at all times, thank you. This has been a public service announcement from XM Radio and the Maryland Highway Patrol and Toll Transit Authority”
If we go with option “B” then we need to allow the Authorities to break into the radio programming while in the tunnel during heavy traffic, Amber Alerts, Fugitive Watch or during heightened alert. Think on this.