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Senate panel favors Northpoint spectrum quest

Northpoint Technology Ltd. would receive free spectrum for its terrestrially based
dish-TV system under a measure approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said the measure is necessary to ensure that a new
competitor gets its spectrum on the same terms as direct-broadcast satellite and can go head-to-head
with satellite TV and cable, especially in rural areas.

"This company provides better service at lower cost," she added.

The Federal Communications Commission denied Northpoint's request for free spectrum and has scheduled an
auction of the spectrum, located on the same band as DBS, for Jan. 14.
Northpoint -- which alone convinced the FCC that the service was viable -- has also asked the Federal Appeals Court in Washington, D.C., to block the auction and issue the
spectrum to the company.

Despite complaints from Sens. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), and Diane Feinstein
(D-Calif.) that the measure would lead to a flurry of exemptions to mandated
spectrum auctions, the measure was approved by voice vote.