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EchoStar challenges ruling

Saying the government misread company plans, EchoStar last week said it will appeal the FCC's revocation of its license to use Ka-band satellite spectrum for data service.

The FCC ruled July 1 that EchoStar failed to meet its January 2002 deadline to begin construction of the necessary satellite. The company said, though, that not only has it begun building the bird but construction is complete and launch scheduled for the fourth quarter.

The FCC based its ruling on company contracts that do not guarantee that the satellite's Ka-band transponders will be operational. EchoStar plans to generate Ka- and Ku-band transmissions from EchoStar IX, which will operate at 121 degrees west. "No one is using the Ka-band," spokesman Marc Lumpkin said. "We want to be a pioneer."

The satellite's designer and builder insisted that the FCC was wrong about Ka-band. "I can say unequivocally that the satellite has ample power and thermal resources to operate the entire Ka-band payload for more than the 15-year design life," said Patrick DeWitt, president of Space Systems/Loral Inc.