Tauzin Supports Northpoint Decision

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Washington -- House Commerce Committee chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) voiced
conditional support Wednesday for the Federal Communications Commission's
decision to auction licenses for terrestrial users of direct-broadcast satellite
spectrum.

'If the commission thinks an auction is necessary, it needs to make sure that
the bidders are prepared to deploy the technology and that they are prepared to
do that on a timetable that the commission sets,' Tauzin told a group of
reporters at the Washington Convention Center here.

In its decision, the FCC said cable operators would not be allowed to bid for
licenses that overlap with their cable systems.

However, the agency intends to permit DBS carriers to participate in the
auction, even though the new service is designed to compete with DBS.

'I think it would be a shame if we had an auction where we allowed people to
bid who would take this technology and shelve it,' Tauzin said.

The FCC's decision was a major setback for spectrum-sharing innovator
Northpoint Technology Ltd., which sought a national license free-of-charge to
deploy a ground-based system offering local TV programming and high-speed
Internet access.

Northpoint faced stiff opposition from the DBS lobby, which argued that
spectrum sharing would scramble TV pictures in millions of DBS subscriber
homes.

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