Northpoint challenges DBS firms to debate

Northpoint Technology President Sophia Collier Tuesday invited DBS executives to publicly debate the results of independent interference tests on Northpoint's proposed terrestrial wireless system.

Those executives countered that a Congressional hearing would be the appropriate venue for such a debate. "Recently your companies made some statements that we strongly disagree with regarding the conclusions of the Mitre report," Collier wrote DirecTV Chairman Eddy Hartenstein and EchoStar Communications Corp. Chairman Charlie Ergen. "Of course, we have responded with our side of the story. Rather than continue this indirect back and forth, we invite you to join us for a public debate."

Collier asked the companies to each send one lay person and two engineers to Washington on Thursday to discuss whether a report issued last month by engineering firm Mitre Corp. concludes that Northpoint's plan to share DBS spectrum to offer wireless video systems interferes with existing DBS service, and whether mitigation techniques suggested by the report would successfully eliminate that interference.

In a response to Collier, Ergen and Hartenstein wrote that they had no doubt about the report's conclusion, which they said was that "Northpoint Technology causes harmful interference." They said they agreed with Collier that the issue should be "fully understood and debated." But they said that "rather than a debate staged for the press, a more appropriate venue is a full Congressional hearing by either the full House Commerce Committee or the Subcommittees on Telecommunications and the Internet or Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection."
- Paige Albiniak