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Northpoint loses ground

Northpoint Technology was dealt a blow by the Bush Administration last Friday, when the Office of Management and Budget said it opposed any efforts to restrict the FCC's ability to auction spectrum.

Northpoint has been trying to get an amendment attached to moving spending bills that would forbid the FCC to assign terrestrial spectrum licenses via competitive bidding. "Such a provision would interfere with the efficient allocation of Federal spectrum licenses, provide a windfall to certain users, and reduce Federal revenues," OMB wrote.

Northpoint last week tried to get its amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), attached to a bill that appropriates funds for the Department of Agriculture and other related agencies. The amendment didn't come up last week, but Northpoint is expected to continue trying as appropriations bills move through Congress.

Northpoint wants the FCC to grant it licenses to offer terrestrial multichannel video and data services using spectrum that has been allocated to direct broadcast satellite and other satellite services. Northpoint says it should be granted the licenses for free because its satellite predecessors got their licenses for free.

"The existing statutory exemption plainly gives satellites an enormous competitive advantage over us and we're simply asking the Congress and the Administration to restore a technologically-neutral regulatory process," says Antoinette Cook Bush, Northpoint Technology's executive vice president. - Paige Albiniak