Northpoint Technology Ltd. is seeking reconsideration of a Federal
Communications Commission decision allowing EchoStar Communications Corp. to
configure a new satellite to permit service in Mexico.
EchoStar justified the satellite design by claiming that it would cause
self-interference to point all transponders at U.S. cities. Rather than leaving
one transponder fallow, EchoStar decided to aim it at Mexico City, one of the
largest cities in the Western Hemisphere.
EchoStar intends to use the satellite to provide local TV service in numerous
U.S. markets. U.S. law requires direct-broadcast satellite carriers to carry all
requesting local TV stations in markets where they elect to provide any local TV
In a Feb. 11 filing at the FCC, Northpoint questioned EchoStar's
justification for the Mexico beam by noting that DBS carrier DirecTV Inc.
ordered a spot-beam satellite with more spot beams than EchoStar's satellite and
did so without introducing any self-interference problems.
Northpoint urged the FCC to rescind its EchoStar approval unless EchoStar agreed to
point all of its spot beams at U.S. cities to ensure that scarce DBS spectrum is
used to advance the public interest of U.S. residents who cannot currently receive
local TV signals via satellite.
For years, Northpoint has been applying for permission from the FCC to share
DBS spectrum to construct a ground-based system and provide video programming
and high-speed Internet access to compete against cable operators and DBS
EchoStar and DirecTV have opposed Northpoint, claiming
that spectrum sharing would cause harmful interference for millions of current
DBS subscribers. Northpoint disputes the interference claim. FCC resolution of
the matter is pending.