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FCC paves way for DBS competition

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission has opened the
direct-broadcast satellite band to terrestrial multichannel-video and high-speed
Internet competition.

Also as expected, the agency will auction the spectrum.

As a result of Tuesday's action, applications for spectrum in the
12-gigahertz band by companies including Broadwave USA Inc. (Northpoint
Technology Ltd.) have been dismissed without prejudice, with those companies now
required to bid on the spectrum where there are competing applications.

The commission will base license assignments on geography, dividing the
country into component economic areas with one block of 500 megahertz of
spectrum available per CEA.

The new authorization includes restrictions on interference with existing DBS

Chairman Michael Powell -- joined by commissioner Kathleen Abernathy --
called the restrictions 'reasonable, but strict.'

The decision was a mixed one for Northpoint, which has long been on the point
in the fight for the spectrum. Powell conceded as much in a separate

'There is little question that had it not been for Northpoint, the MVDDS
[multichannel-video-distribution and data service] would not be ready to move
forward today,' Powell said.

'Northpoint has put significant time and resources into developing its
service model, as well as its commission and congressional advocacy, over a long
period of time,' he added. 'We applaud these efforts. But the statute does not
support exempting this spectrum from auction, nor does it grant Northpoint the
exclusive privilege it seeks.'