Northpoint Takes FCC to Court

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In a widely expected move, Northpoint Technology Ltd. is suing after losing a
multiyear struggle to obtain free spectrum from the federal government to
compete head-on against cable operators and direct-broadcast satellite
carriers.

Northpoint developed a technology for which it has a federal patent that
allows terrestrial transmitters to use DBS-assigned frequencies to provide video
programming and high-speed data without causing harmful interference to DBS
subscribers.

In April, Northpoint persuaded the Federal Communications Commission that its
spectrum-sharing technology worked, but it failed to convince the agency to give
it a free license in every market in the country. Instead, the commission said
it would stage an auction next February.

On June 21, Northpoint filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C.
Circuit in an attempt to wrest the licenses from the agency without an
auction.

'We are asking the court to reinstate our license application and stop the
auction,' Northpoint CEO Sophia Collier said in a prepared statement.

The Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association strongly opposed
Northpoint's FCC application, claiming that terrestrial use would case harmful
interference. The SBCA is weighing whether to take the FCC to court or to first
ask the agency to reconsider its decision.

Incumbent cable operators were largely excluded from bidding on licenses with
coverage areas overlapping their cable franchise areas. The National Cable &
Telecommunications Association said it was polling its members on how to respond
to the FCC's auction rules.

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