EchoStar, Intelsat Quarrel Over Timing of FCC Filing

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EchoStar has gone to the Federal Communications Commission in a squabble with rival Intelsat, which claims Charlie Ergen’s application for a satellite slot should be dismissed because it was filed 10 minutes too early.

EchoStar, which is Ergen’s fixed-satellite service and set-top company, filed Aug. 8 with the FCC to oppose Intelsat’s bid to have its request for a satellite slot dismissed.

Both EchoStar and Intelsat want the same C-band satellite slot, the 85 degrees West Longitude orbital location.

EchoStar filed for the fixed-service satellite slot May 23 at 10:50 a.m. Ten minutes later PanAmSat, which Intelsat acquired two years ago, applied for the same frequency band at the same slot.

“We were simply following a procedure that the FCC had communicated in a public briefing several years ago,” an Intelsat spokeswoman said.

Intelsat, citing a frequently-asked-questions document and audio-visual recording of an FCC forum, claims that EchoStar should not have filed its application until 11 a.m. and wants it dismissed.

But in its FCC filing opposing Intelsat’s motion to dismiss, EchoStar said, “There is no rule establishing 11 a.m. as the appropriate time to file first-come, first-served applications…Granting Intelsat’s motion to dismiss EchoStar’s applications would impose a draconian penalty (i.e., loss of an orbital slot) on a provider with a relatively small FSS (fixed-service satellite) business and reward the large incumbent.”

Intelsat said the FCC will have to decide the issue.

“It’s a procedural skirmish,” the Intelsat spokeswoman said. “It’s something that the FCC will have to undertake to clarify and in the process either EchoStar or Intelsat will be the beneficiary of the clarification of the rule.”  

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