Administration Fights MVDDS Amendment

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From our friends at SkyReport.com

The Bush Administration reiterated its stand on an amendment tied to appropriations legislation concerning upcoming auctions for Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service (MVDDS) spectrum, telling lawmakers in a "Statement of Administration Policy" that it opposes any restriction on the ability to reward the spectrum via competitive bidding.

The Federal Communications Commission is set to auction MVDDS licenses in January, but a number of senators are pushing an amendment in the Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations Bill that would restrict the FCC's ability to assign licenses for the developing terrestrial service through competitive bidding.

The Administration statement, released Monday, said the amendment would "provide an undeserved windfall projected by the Congressional Budget Office to be as much as $100 million to one company, which would be the sole beneficiary of this provision, and deprive other companies that intend to compete in the January auction of access to the spectrum in question."

Northpoint Technology, the Washington, D.C.,-based company eyeing MVDDS for its wireless technology, has been lobbying Capitol Hill on restricting the FCC auction of the spectrum. MVDDS will share the same frequencies used by satellite TV, which has the dish crowd worried about interference.

The statement added that the amendment could bring the FCC's auctions program to a halt for a year or more "through cancellation of contracts critical to auctions operations, resulting in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in auction receipts, and the delay of auctions of spectrum valued in the billions of dollars."

In response, Northpoint Executive Vice President Antoinette Cook Bush said it appears the Administration doesn't understand a critical aspect of the amendment. "The provision gives the FCC complete discretion to determine which, if any, companies would be awarded MVDDS licenses. Nothing in this provision guarantees any company the ability to receive a license from the FCC," Cook said.

Cook added. "Competitive bidding has not been used to allocate satellite licenses since 1997. Since that time over 500 satellite licenses have been issued without auction to numerous companies, many of which provide satellite TV and broadband services. Any company seeking a license to share the same frequencies as satellites should be licensed by the same rules."

Meanwhile, Congress Daily said Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., is preparing an amendment to strip out the auction restriction provision from pending legislation. While key senators back the original MVDDS amendment, Ensign's proposal may have the support of Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain and Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles.
 

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