Skip to main content

AT&T Backs DBS-Spectrum Sharing

AT&T Corp., the nation's largest cable operator, is urging the Federal
Communications Commission to open direct-broadcast-satellite spectrum to sharing
by terrestrial users.

In comments filed Wednesday, AT&T said it agreed with a study mandated by
Congress that DBS-spectrum sharing can occur without harmful interference to
DBS-signal reception by employing noncomplex mitigation techniques.

The DBS industry, led by DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp., is
fighting spectrum sharing, claiming that it would endanger service to 15 million
DBS subscribers.

'EchoStar and DirecTV reflexively dismiss many of the mitigation measures
proposed [in the report] as impracticable or unworkable. Their positions are not
supported by the report,' AT&T said.

AT&T's filing will likely bolster efforts by Northpoint Technology Ltd.
to obtain license in the DBS band to offer video programming and high-speed
Internet access by deploying terrestrially based transmitters.

Northpoint is seeking licenses in every TV market, and it does not want to
pay for the licenses at auction.

However, AT&T said, the FCC should conduct an auction and open the
licensing process to multiple parties.

'The [FCC] should dismiss the DBS industry's attempts to
discredit the report's unambiguous findings that spectrum sharing is viable if
appropriate mitigation measures are used,' AT&T said.

'We are not surprised that AT&T, the nation's largest cable company,
would support introducing interference into the DBS band,' Satellite
Broadcasting & Communications Association president Chuck Hewitt said in a
prepared statement. 'DBS' crystal-clear digital picture and sound have
enabled the industry, in just over six years, to reach 16 million
households, and DBS is gaining new subscribers at a rate of more than 9,000
households per day. This success is a threat to cable operators such as
AT&T.'