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DBS Goes to Court on Spectrum Sharing

The direct-broadcast satellite industry is going to court in a bid to block a
spectrum-sharing plan adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in May
after years of internal debate at the agency.

The Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association filed suit
against the FCC July 22 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit,
claiming that the introduction of terrestrial operations in the DBS-spectrum
band would cause harmful interference for millions of current DBS

The SBCA's biggest members are DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications
Corp., both of which waged strong lobbying campaigns at the FCC against
Northpoint Technology Ltd., which petitioned the agency to open DBS spectrum to
terrestrial operators.

'As an industry, we will continue the fight on every possible front to
protect our current and future subscribers from interference,' SBCA president
Andy Wright said.

Northpoint has also sued the FCC on the basis that the agency should have
awarded the company an exclusive in every market for being a spectrum-sharing

The commission set aside the airwaves for competing providers of high-speed
data and multichannel video.

On Feb. 12, 2003, the FCC is planning to auction 354 MVDDS
(multichannel-video distribution and data services) licenses, one to a market.
Although DBS operators may bid in the auction, cable operators are largely
excluded from acquiring MVDDS licenses that overlap with their cable-franchise

It's unclear now whether the D.C. Circuit will issue a ruling prior to the
auction date. Northpoint has asked the court to consider its appeal