Senate Bulletin Takes Aim at Northpoint


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Supporting Founder
Sep 8, 2003
Las Vegas, Nevada
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A newsletter distributed around Capitol Hill recently took aim at Northpoint Technology and its efforts to gain exclusive licenses for the Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service (MVDDS), the controversial spectrum-sharing wireless technology.

In September, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed an amendment, tied to an appropriations bill, favoring Northpoint and its efforts to avoid an auction for MVDDS licenses. In a newsletter distributed by Republican staff of the Senate Budget Committee, critics said the amendment "would so narrowly limit the eligibility for the particular spectrum license that it would most likely have the result that the FCC would not conduct the scheduled auction, and that ultimately Northpoint would acquire the licenses for free."

The "Budget Bulletin" said the Congressional Budget Office has estimated a MVDDS auction would generate $60 million for the Treasury. The Senate amendment, however, "is equivalent to appropriating $60 million for one company – Northpoint – and letting them use those taxpayer funds to 'win' the spectrum at an 'auction' of one bidder," stated the newsletter.

The Bulletin added, "If the Administration’s resolve is not sufficient to prevent this amendment from being enacted, the amendment would effectively kill the spectrum auction program for 2004 - as the Northpoint auction is the only significant one scheduled for the upcoming year - and foretells the demise of this successful program."

Satellite TV interests have been fighting MVDDS, worried that the spectrum-sharing technology will interfere with DBS signals.
If Northpoint would be able to start its business and it would in fact cause interference with Dish and Direct, wouldnt both companies then be able to have it stopped and be able to sue for loss of revenue due to the interference?
in fact cause interference with Dish and Direct, wouldnt both companies then be able to have it stopped and be able to sue for loss of revenue due to the interference?

Maybe. But, pack a lunch. And tens of millions of dollars for the legal bills. And meanwhile (for years) we would have damage done to DBS subscribers.

First, I believe that it will cause some level of interference to millions of DBS subscribers. The bad news is that you might be missing a transponder here or there (many channels), and perhaps just intermittently. Merely moving your dish location may help. For a while. Or going to a larger dish. Or, installing some physical shielding to keep the local terrestrial signal out of the dish. Or, some other local, individual mitigations may be effective for each unique situation.

But that’s the problem. It will not be millions of easily identified, qualified, or quantified interference to end-users. And perhaps most would be “Minor Interference” that could be mitigated with “Minor adjustments” to the DBS reception equipment with “minor costs”***

The real bad news is that it is likely that it would be the end user who would end up inconvienienced, and no matter how you try to hide the direct costs of mitigation – it will be the DBS customer who pays for it – one way or another. And the fear is that some folks would just say to heck with it, and go back to cable, or stay away from DBS in the first place.

**Definition of “Minor Interference” and other “Minor” items (EG: Minor Costs, Minor inconvienence, Minor Surgery): “Minor Interference” is interference for someone else. It becomes “significant interference” when it impacts you.

Sadly, This whole thing reminds me of what we all went thru in the C-Band days with telephone microwave links sharing the frequency allocation. It was a huge pain in the rump. Been there, done that! And EXACTLY why the DBS band was created WITHOUT ANY interfering terrestrial uses co-located in the same frequency band! WE LEARNED from that experience. Or, at least some who remember it learned from that experience. And, With the dramatically larger number of DBS subscribers (above the C-Band peak) – I fear that this would be a disaster!

Please take a moment and write to your rascals in Congress!

More info here:
Wouldn't it be something if NorthPoint did start a service using the DBS frequencies (if they were granted to do so) then said that they had an advantage to their service in that it was clear without interference (of course they would word it different) even though they would in fact be the cause of it?

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