Ondas optimistic for Euro-radio


The past few weeks have not been kind to satellite pay radio. We have had the total collapse of Worldspace into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the near-collapse of Sirius-XM in the USA and the credit crunch affecting just about everyone who is trying to raise cash in the Capital, Equity or Debt markets. It also cannot be easy for would-be new entrants to the pay-radio market like Ondas Media.

On the upside, there’s no doubt that Ondas Media is adequately funded for this year’s plans. CEO Dave Krueger tells us that: “Ondas continues to make progress. We continue to raise money and are funded through 2009 to support our automotive operations and our regulatory partnerships. We will sign more OEM agreements like the BMW contract announced at the end of last year. We expect to make some announcements in the coming weeks on this front.”

This alone sounds like very positive good news. Last year’s BMW contract was a key ground-breaker, and when added to the deal Ondas already has in place with Nissan is a guaranteed revenue earner once a broadcast system is in place. But that is the challenge! Krueger and his team need to create that system.

Which maybe is where Solaris Mobile comes in. Solaris makes no secret that a contract from Ondas would be a major feather in its cap. And Krueger agrees, and his enthusiasm for Solaris – and Steve Maine’s valuable capacity – is telling: “We have promoted and will continue to promote a unified effort in Europe with strong partnerships across the board on satellite and ground infrastructure, radio technology, market, and especially the content. Steve’s group would certainly be a leading contributor to such a partnership and are clearing the way with the upcoming launch of the first S-band payload for mobile satellite services. We wish them luck and are anxiously anticipating the launch of W2A.”

Certainly, Solaris Mobile could give Ondas a ‘fast track’ route to bandwidth. There are still major and expensive challenges ahead, of course, but the collapse of Worldspace and financial support for Sirius-XM from John Malone doesn’t deter Krueger one bit. “I don’t have any comments regarding Worldspace,” he tells us. “However, we do think the recent developments with Ergen and Malone reinforce the core value of satellite radio. And considering that many leading OEMs, which are profiting from satellite radio in the US, are even stronger in Europe, we believe this is another sign that the time is coming for deploying a pan-European answer to the customer’s demands.”

So there you have it. Despite all the mayhem, Ondas insists it still in the game.