EchoStar: Block Cable from Spectrum


Cable operators should be barred from bidding for direct-broadcast satellite
spectrum if federal regulators open the spectrum to new entrants, EchoStar
Communications Corp. said recently.

The Federal Communications Commission is weighing whether to allow Northpoint
Technology Ltd. to share DBS spectrum. Northpoint wants to obtain access to the
spectrum free-of-charge and offer video programming and high-speed data using
ground-based transmitters

In a Jan. 23 letter, EchoStar told the FCC that if the spectrum is opened for
new users, the agency must conduct an auction. In addition, cable operators
should not be allowed to bid, EchoStar said.

'DBS providers should be eligible to apply for such licenses, but cable
operators should not be allowed to bid on account of their market power and
anti-competitive incentives,' EchoStar said in a two-page letter disclosing a
Jan. 22 meeting between representatives of EchoStar and DirecTV Inc. and Peter
Tenhula, senior legal adviser to FCC chairman Michael Powell.

EchoStar and DirecTV are opposing Northpoint's entry by claiming that shared
use of the spectrum would interfere with the reception of DBS signals into the
homes of millions of subscribers.

Northpoint claimed that interference problem can be addressed though
adjustments made to dishes at individual homes.

Meanwhile, EchoStar is proposing that Northpoint should deploy its service in
a spectrum allocation adjacent to the DBS band.

That band is heavily used by cable operators for ground-based microwave
links, and both Northpoint and the National Cable & Telecommunications
Associations have told the FCC they reject the introduction of new users in the
adjacent band.