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McCain Unhappy with Northpoint Response

Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) is unhappy with Northpoint Technology Ltd., believing that the company failed to provide all of the names of people who would benefit if the Federal Communications Commission awarded the company a nationwide video- and data-spectrum license.

"We are not satisfied with their response because we believe it is not a thorough picture of who will benefit if Congress gives spectrum to Northpoint, and we are considering our options for our next step," McCain spokeswoman Rebecca Hanks said.

On Tuesday, in response to an Oct. 20 letter from McCain, Northpoint provided the names of its owners, lobbyists and affiliates -- in all, a list that included dozens of people. The affiliate agreements have expired because the FCC did not award spectrum to the company before March 31, Northpoint said.

In her letter, Northpoint CEO Sophia Collier told McCain her company would provide more than 90 channels of video programming for $20 per month and high-speed data for another $20 using a network of terrestrial transmitters that share direct-broadcast satellite spectrum. Consumers, she added, would be the real beneficiaries if her company got the spectrum.

"If licensed, our company is committed to deploying … systems in every local market in the country," Collier said, adding that the company would voluntarily carry every local TV station in the country.

McCain is concerned that Northpoint is lobbying Congress to obtain free spectrum that could fetch $100 million in an auction the FCC plans to stage in January.

Collier -- who has said an auction would bankrupt her company -- told McCain the legislation supported by Northpoint would not guarantee that Northpoint gained access to the spectrum because other companies are seeking FCC licenses in the same band.