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FCC Hands Out New TV Licenses

EchoStar Communications Corp.-backed LLC Thursday received licenses to offer a new type of TV service in 37 markets. bid $20.6 million for the licenses for a microwave-delivered broadband/TV service in January.

EchoStar, which holds a 40% stake in the company has not said how's licenses will be used but they could be a big help in delivering local channels in the markets they cover.

The biggest cities covered by the new licenses include Boston, Dallas, Washington, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, and Seattle.

Another license winner, MDS America, will use licenses it won to roll out a new wireless broadband service in Jacksonville, Fla. and two other markets in the next three months, says CEO Kirk Kirkpatrick. The MDS rollout will be the first from the winners of the new FCC licenses. The FCC is looking to increase broadband competition by encouraging the new service.
MDS is a winner in another way: It makes equipment other license-holders plan to use. Another winner is Cablevision subsidiary DTV Norwich, which plans to supplement its new DBS service, VOOM, with microwave-delivered channels.
Cablevision execs aren’t talking about their plans yet because their biggest license, for New York City, hasn’t been formally approved.

Norwich’s other 45 licenses were granted in July but the New York permit is on hold because Cablevision needs more time to spin off the new company. Until the spin-off happens, the New York license can’t be issued Cablevision, which owns cable systems in the New York market. Owners of the new microwave-based licenses aren’t allowed to operate cable systems in the same town.