FCC Accepts Six for Northpoint Auction


Six companies have filed valid applications to bid in a January auction for spectrum in a band that includes direct-broadcast satellite services, the Federal Communications Commission reported Wednesday.

However, 21 applications were rejected as deficient in some manner, including one by Capitol Broadcasting Co. Inc., which owns the CBS and Fox TV stations in Raleigh, N.C.

No big players were listed.

As expected, neither DirecTV Inc. nor EchoStar Communications Corp. filed applications under their corporate names. MDS America Inc., which has spectrum-sharing technology, filed an application that was accepted.

The FCC is holding the auction Jan. 14, allocating one 500-megahertz license in every TV market in the country. Winning bidders are permitted to offer video programming and high-speed data using terrestrial transmitters.

Northpoint Technology Ltd. wanted a free national license from the FCC, but it was rejected. The DBS industry fought Northpoint, saying that spectrum sharing would zap their signals in the homes of millions of customers. The FCC concluded that the spectrum can be shared without causing harmful interference.

The FCC calls the service multichannel-video-distribution and data service (MVDDS). The auction is for 214 MVDDS licenses, each one a 500-MHz block in the 12.2-gigahertz to 12.7-GHz band. Under bidding rules, one entity may purchase every license, FCC spokeswoman Chelsea Fallon said.

Cable companies may not bid for licenses that significantly overlap with their cable franchise areas. No major cable company filed to bid.

Each license is issued for a 10-year term. Licensees have five years to provide substantial service to the public.

Northpoint has a case pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that challenges the FCC's decision to hold an auction. The company has also been lobbying Capitol Hill to block the auction.

In addition to MDS, the FCC accepted applications from Case Cable TV, Council Tree Communications LLC, DTV Norwich LLC, Moontime Wireless LLC and Winstar Spectrum LLC.