FCC: No Free Spectrum for Northpoint


Direct-broadcast satellite carriers need to share their spectrum, according
to a long-awaited decision issued by the Federal Communications Commission
Tuesday that resulted in a setback for spectrum-sharing innovator Northpoint
Technology Ltd. because the agency also ruled that licenses would most likely be
awarded through auctions.

'Naturally, we're disappointed,' Northpoint president Sophia Collier said in
a prepared statement. 'Granting the . applications would have more than tripled
the participation of women and minority owners of video-broadcasting properties
in the United States.'

In a joint statement, FCC chairman Michael Powell and commissioner Kathleen
Abernathy, both Republicans, said the law required an auction.

'The statute does not support exempting this spectrum from auction, nor does
it grant Northpoint the exclusive privilege it seeks,' they said. 'If
Northpoint's service model is a winner, the market will reward it just as it has
done for other technology companies.'

The Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association bemoaned the FCC
action, claiming that spectrum sharing will scramble TV pictures in millions of
DBS homes.