FCC Opens Cable-Relay Eligibility

The Federal Communications Commission said Thursday that it has expanded
eligibility for licensees in the Cable Television Relay Service (CARS) to
include all multichannel-video providers, including private cable operators,
direct-broadcast satellite companies and open-video systems.

The action was taken to help spur competition to cable, the FCC said in a
press release.

CARS operates in the 12-gigahertz and 18-GHz spectrum bands. Its primary use
is for intermediate transmission of video signals within a distribution network,
the commission said.

On Friday, the Satellite Broadcasting & Communications Association
endorsed the FCC's CARS decision and expressed hopes that CARS would serve as an
alternative to terrestrial spectrum sharing in the DBS bands.

'By opening the CARS bands to all [multichannel video providers], the FCC has
taken an important step toward a workable solution for DBS and potential
terrestrial wireless cable operators that could increase competition without
causing interference to millions of DBS subscribers,' SBCA president Andy Wright
said in a press release.

'Moving potential terrestrial wireless cable operators like Northpoint
[Technology Ltd.] into the CARS bands could permit new competition in the MVPD
marketplace while still protecting DBS consumers,' he added.