Senators backing a new terrestrially based pay TV service appeared taken
aback that more than one company is vying for the spectrum.
"I think they were surprised to discover we exist," said Harold Kirkpatrick,
head of MDS America, whose company has built systems overseas.
One cosponsor of legislation -- which requires the spectrum to be issued free-of-charge,
rather than via a planned Federal Communications Commission auction -- asked Kirkpatrick for a one-on-one
Still, most lawmakers at a hearing on the bill last week voiced continued
support for Northpoint Technology Ltd., which instigated the FCC's authorization of the new
MDS America is Northpoint's prime rival for the spectrum and, believing it
would win the spectrum in an open bid, wants the frequencies auctioned.
Sens. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and John Sununu (R-N.H.), both backers of the bill, criticized the
direct-broadcast satellite industry for its opposition to the terrestrial service.
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