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Author Topic:   Sirius Satellite Radio Weather in Canada
jimh posted 02-29-2012 01:49 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
In two of the past four years while cruising in Canada in Northern Lake Huron, I have had the opportunity to see companion boats receive weather data from Sirius via a satellite radio receiver. Here is an image from 2008 showing a thunderstorm cell passing just North of our position on VINGILOT:

In 2011 we also had a boat in our fleet with weather data from Sirius. Dave Hart on WALKABOUT was getting weather information from his Lowrance LWX-1 receiver.

There appears to be some sort of administrative or legal or treaty problem with Sirius actually providing weather data to residents of Canada, although the hardware seems to work well in Canadian water--although we were not too far North, in latitude 46-North, when I saw it working. On this basis, it does not appear that there is any sort of geo-fencing of the hardware. By geo-fencing I mean a situation where the hardware becomes aware of its location, and if the hardware is outside of the intended region for use, the hardware begins to limit its capabilities in some way or to disable service or features. Again, I don't see any geo-fencing going on with the Lowrance LWX-1.

There could also be a radio problem with reception of the satellite. Most satellite downlink transponders have a directional pattern and tend to concentrate their signal to a particular area. This produces a coverage "footprint." The footprint from the Sirius satellite seems to be broad enough and strong enough that it can be successfully received in the Southern areas of Canada, at least in the Great Lakes.

Without a radio signal problem, and without a geo-fencing feature reduction, it seems like Sirius satellite weather should work in Canada. The catch seems to be that Sirius only sells the service to people with a mailing address in the USA. This is the focus of my further inquiry.

What causes Sirius to only offer their weather service to people with a mailing address in the USA?

I know Dave Hart has done some research on this, and I am hoping he will reply.

Hoosier posted 02-29-2012 07:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Oh, boy. Stand by while I dig into my email stash.
Hoosier posted 02-29-2012 08:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
This may be germane to this Sirius Weather Radar issue.

One thing to keep in mind is that a satellite beam footprints aren't all that narrow, they can't afford having that many antennas "up there". One thing though, in the couple of incidents Jim mentions we got radar imagery from storms that were well into Canada. As the email, from Environment Canada, below states, commercial firms are not restricted like the official government agencies are.

My original question:

"Is there any way that the NWS can make a deal with Environment Canada to jointly show border region radar imagery? The NWS radar coverage has a big hole in that it has virtually no coverage of Southeastern Lake Superior, including Whitefish Bay, but the Canadian radar at Montreal River covers it completely."

(I add the same problem exists for Isle Royale; the NWS radars a Duluth and Marquette can's "see" there, but the Canadian radars at Thunder Bay have overlapping coverage.)

EC's reply:

"Thank you for sending your message to Environment Canada.
Unfortunately we can only show Canadian content on our web site as we are a Government of Canada web site. The same is true in the United States with the products shown on their National Weather Service web site. However, private companies (Intellicast and AccuWeather in the US or The Weather Network in Canada) do not have to follow the same guiding policies."

NWS Station1 reply:

"You are absolutely right...and I really wish we could, along with everyone else in our office. But that is way out of our control...way up the chain of command. It would, literally, take an international agreement between the two governments.

I wish I had better news or could be of more assistance...but rest assured that we share your frustration."

NWS Station 2 reply:

"We do not have a radar mosaic currently set up that includes data from Environment Canada. I will check and see if it is possible for us to provide this imagery in the future."

NWS Station 1 reply (later):

"Yes...troubling indeed the holes you mention. And with the budgets these days...and getting worse as we're hearing recently...this doesn't appear to be a problem that will go away any time soon."

So, from what I got from the respective governments, they can't do it over the border, but commercial firms can. I surmise that SIRIUS has "permission" to use Canadian data for US customers, but not for Canadians.

A similar thing happened with satellite TV; Direct TV and Dish Network could not provide service to Canada. The physics didn't care, the beams were wide enough to cover a lot of southern Canada. So the wily Canukes did what any free thinking person would do, they got US Post Office Boxes so they could "legally" get the service. Ha!

bluewaterpirate posted 03-01-2012 08:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
Here's a coast-to-coast view of Sirius Weather taken 2/27/12 from my Simrad NSS8. There is coverage into Canada.


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