SBCA Takes Aim at Northpoint Letter


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Sep 8, 2003
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On Thursday, the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association delivered letters to members of Congress addressing claims made by Northpoint Technology in an October correspondence sent to Sen. John McCain.

The SBCA letter, written by vice president of Government Affairs David Murray, said, "It's apparent Northpoint will not hesitate to dissemble and twist the facts in order to achieve its real goal of enriching itself by receiving spectrum for free from Congress." Northpoint wants to gain MVDDS (Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service) spectrum, which would share spectrum used by satellite TV companies.

In the letter, SBCA refuted claims from Northpoint claiming DBS companies haven't paid for spectrum. Since Congress granted the Federal Communications Commission authority to allocate spectrum via auction in 1993, EchoStar paid $52.3 million to the government for a license, and acquired a DBS license for which MCI paid $682.5 million at auction.

"The only relevant thing that has changed since 1996 is that the FCC is no longer only authorized to conduct spectrum auctions. The 1997 Balanced Budget Act now requires the FCC to do so," the SBCA said.

The SBCA also targeted Northpoint claims that said the FCC has issued hundreds of satellite licenses without auction since 1997. "This number is improperly inflated by including FSS satellite applications which typically provide different services in separate spectrum and amendments/modifications to already licensed DBS and FSS satellites," the SBCA said.

Antoinette Cook Bush of Northpoint took issue with the letter. "The fact remains that regardless of what the SBCA says, there has not been an auction for a satellite license since 1997," she said. "Hundreds of satellite licenses have been issued without auction since 1997."

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