VOOM Spent $84.6 Million in buying licenses for MVDDS-Is there a game plan after all?

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Sean Mota

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VOOM maybe buying more spectrum...

Here's an interested post about spectrum bidding. The companies bidding for this spectrum is Echostar and Dolan-Cablevision-VOOM. What VOOM plans to do with this is unknown? Here's the thread for those that do not navigate that forum. All discussions should be kept in that thread. So this thread will be closed.

http://www.satelliteguys.us/showthread.php?t=4747
 
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Sean Mota

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I am re-opening the thread to discuss the possibilities of the spectrum to VOOM. What is it that VOOM is trying to accomplish by spending millions on this. How can they combine 61.5 and this? All other discussions please keep in the other thread, otherwise they will be deleted.
 
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Sean Mota

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So here's a website using that has information about a similar spectrum use in france. It has lots of information about software, hardware, white papers and video. The concept sounds good...

http://www.mds.fr/default.htm
 
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Sean Mota

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EchoStar-linked company seeking to widen spectrum
By Chris Walsh, Rocky Mountain News
January 24, 2004

A small Colorado company with strong ties to EchoStar Communications Corp. is leading an effort that could shake up the pay-television industry and spawn new competition for cable and satellite TV companies.

South.com LLC, based in the Denver area, is aggressively bidding on licenses to beam television channels and high-speed Internet service using a ground-based wireless network.

The Federal Communications Commission is auctioning the licenses in an attempt to offer a new, potentially cheaper, way of delivering programming and broadband Internet access to U.S. households.

Its intent: increase competition and offer consumers more choices.

But Douglas County-based EchoStar - the nation's second-largest provider of satellite TV - actually could benefit.

EchoStar owns 49.9 percent of South.com, which is controlled by Denver businesswoman Phanie Sundheim.

As of Friday, South.com had bid $397 million on 34 spectrum licenses, giving it access to some of the largest markets in the country, including Denver; Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Atlanta.

EchoStar declined to comment for this report, and South.com did not return phone calls.

But analysts say the move is a gamble by EchoStar Chief Executive Charlie Ergen to strengthen the company's services and snatch subscribers from competitors. Conspicuously absent from the bidding is DirecTV, the world's No. 1 satellite-TV provider.

"When somebody buys into a company like South.com at the level Charlie Ergen did, they hold a few cards which give them a particular advantage down the line," said Jimmy Schaeffler, president and chief executive officer of the Carmel Group, a California- based satellite- and cable-TV research firm.

"One could guess that this is part of EchoStar's future. If it goes real well, they may have the opportunity to move it in the direction they'd like to move it."

At the beginning

The idea of using satellite-TV spectrum for wireless services dates back at least to 1999, when a company called Northpoint attempted to persuade the FCC to grant it a license to use the spectrum for free.

The spectrum is the same one used by EchoStar and DirecTV, but the signals are transmitted through ground-based towers instead of satellites.

EchoStar and DirecTV argued that sharing the spectrum in this manner would disrupt service for millions of their subscribers.

Instead of giving away the spectrum, the FCC decided to sell it to companies through an auction, hoping to increase competition for cable and satellite TV companies.

Each license has 500 megahertz of bandwidth, making it much stronger than broadcast signals. The licenses essentially have the same capacity as satellite to carry advanced services and channels.

"There's a lot of bandwidth available, and it has the ability to deliver many services available, like 200 channels in digital quality," said Sharif Rabah, sales and marketing manger of MDS Operations Inc., a Stuart, Fla.-based company that is bidding for spectrum to offer high-speed Internet.

On Jan. 14, the FCC began auctioning 214 licenses that cover all U.S. television markets.

The FCC prevented cable companies from bidding on licenses that cover areas in which they have penetrated at least 20 percent of households in the region.

As of Friday afternoon, companies placed 191 bids totaling $136 million.

"It looks like most companies that are bidding are headed toward doing something similar to a cable-TV-like service," said Lauren Patrich, spokeswoman for the FCC's wireless bureau. "But they're not obligated to tell us what they plan to do with it."

Fourteen companies - mostly unknown startups or small firms - qualified to bid.

Aside from EchoStar, however, another big player is taking a behind-the-scenes role.

The top bidder so far is DTV Norwich LLC, which is 49 percent owned by the satellite arm of cable giant Cablevision Systems Corp.

The satellite arm runs a new service called VOOM, which provides high-definition channels nationwide. DTV has bid $87.5 million for 49 licenses, some of them in top areas like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Even though the satellite industry aggressively fought to block additional use of the spectrum, two satellite companies now find themselves in on the ground floor of the technology.

"Their thinking seems to be: If you can't beat them in your own back yard, invite them in the house," Schaeffler said.


EchoStar could benefit

Analysts differ in their opinions of whether or not the spectrum will give rise to an effective competitor to cable and satellite.

But several analysts said EchoStar could benefit if the technology proves successful.

"Charlie Ergen is a poker player, and with this he's making a calculated bet," said Bill Jacobs, an analyst with Harris Associates in Chicago. "If they (South.com and EchoStar) can figure out the technology, it could be a good bet."

South.com could use the licenses to provide broadband Internet, and in turn offer the service through EchoStar.

High-speed Internet is seen by some analysts as a major weakness for satellite TV providers. Cable companies have gained millions of broadband subscribers by bundling Internet service with video.

EchoStar and DirecTV offer satellite broadband through partner companies, but it can be more expensive and more complicated than with cable.

"That's the piece that EchoStar and DirecTV are missing: the ability to effectively deliver both video and data," said Bruce Leichtman of Leichtman Research Group, a New Hampshire-based research firm. "The opportunity (with South.com) is to say 'Now we have partners, see if it works.' "

Another possibility: EchoStar could offer high-definition TV using South.com, which would free up valuable bandwidth on their satellites.

"If you're Charlie Ergen and you look ahead five years and say 'How do I get HD to all of my subscribers without putting up a bunch of satellites?' this may or may not be a way to do that," Jacobs said.

EchoStar also may be able to offer its local channels through South.com, which would free up bandwidth.

"They could be pre-empting a competitor from getting the spectrum, or they could try to buy programming from South.com or repackage it," said Matthew Harrigan, an analyst with Greenwood Village-based Janco Partners Inc.

Still, Harrigan said he doesn't think EchoStar's backing of South.com will amount to anything earth-shattering.

"I absolutely do not think this is a big deal."
 
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rang1995

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This just in..is there a game plan after all???

Cablevision a top bidder for wireless licenses
Monday January 26, 11:47 am ET


NEW YORK, Jan 26 (Reuters) - VOOM, the satellite TV service set to be spun off from New York-area cable company Cablevision Systems (NYSE:CVC - News), is the top bidder for licenses to build a U.S. wireless video and data network, according to Federal Communications Commission (News - Websites) figures.
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The network would use an emerging technology called MVDDS, or Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service, which operates within the same spectrum of broadcast frequencies as satellite television services like DirecTV and DISH Network. But it is transmitted from local microwave towers, allowing the broadcast of local channels and two-way high-speed data.

Satellite broadcasters, who oppose the technology, say their spectrum is too crowded, diminishing the quality of their product.

A spokeswoman for Cablevision confirmed that the company is participating in the FCC auction for licenses, which began on Jan. 14, but declined to comment further.

VOOM, via its 49 percent stake in DTV Norwich LLC, is the leading bidder in 48 major media markets including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia, according to the FCC. DTV Norwich has placed bids worth more than $87 million so far.

Its nearest competitor is South.com LLC, a venture backed by EchoStar Communications Corp. (NasdaqNM:DISH - News) that operates the DISH Network satellite TV service. South.com has placed bids totaling more than $39 million for licenses in Boston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Washington, Atlanta and Detroit.

The satellite television industry initially attempted to block anyone from operating a MVDDS service because of the disruption it could cause to the satellite TV signal.

The FCC ruled in May 2002 that terrestrial services could operate in the spectrum used by satellite TV, but that auctions would be required for licenses.

News Corp (Australia:NCP.AX - News)-controlled DirecTV, EchoStar and the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association are asking a federal court to overrule the FCC's decision.
 
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Sean Mota

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rang1995,

I had to merge your thread with this one that was on the same topic. Of course, as have been mentioned before this could open doors to VOOM and it looks like is not very expensive to setup. http://www.mds.fr/default.htm
 
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CayugasSholar

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HSD with MVDDS

Once again I'm confused by these technology. I kept seeing the press speculating that satellite operators would use the MVDDS technology to implement high speed data. But I thought someone said since the MVDDS signal has to be directional southward from north that two-way data is not achievable in a practical sense. Did the FCC relax that restriction or what? Thanks.
 
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Sean Mota

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Dolan Seeks Licenses Internet, video via microwave towers

By Harry Berkowitz
STAFF WRITER

January 27, 2004


Not satisfied to do battle in the cable TV and satellite TV realms, Cablevision Systems Corp. chairman Charles Dolan is trying to corner a newer technology in cities stretching from New York to Los Angeles.

A venture that is 49 percent owned by the Jericho-based Voom satellite TV unit of Cablevision is high bidder in an ongoing auction of government licenses to use microwave towers for transmitting video and high-speed Internet signals to homes.

The outfit, called DTV Norwich, leads the bidding in 46 of the nation's 210 TV markets, having bid a total of more than $84 million so far, including $24 million for the New York metro area license.

In addition to New York, DTV Norwich leads the bidding, as of the 41st round, in areas including Los Angeles, with a $15-million bid, Chicago and San Francisco, each with about $8 million, plus Philadelphia, Miami-Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans, Memphis, Tenn., and parts of Ohio.

Unlike satellite TV, which beams signals to homes from the sky, and cable TV, which uses cable lines, the newer technology uses local towers topped by microwave transmission dishes aimed at the horizon.

For each metro area, the license holder would need to spend $3 million or less to set up transmission facilities, said Jimmy Schaeffler, chairman of The Carmel Group, a California research firm..

That compares with $250 million Voom spent to build and launch its single satellite last year, which reaches most of the United States and features high-definition TV pictures. In addition to that satellite, last year the Federal Communications Commission, which is conducting the current auction, granted Voom rights to launch four more satellites.

"The bottom line is Dolan needs more spectrum," Schaeffler said, adding that possible uses include transmitting local TV station broadcasts in HDTV, filling in gaps in the Voom satellite's capacity and providing Internet service.

Other satellite companies have complained that the microwave technology, formally called multichannel video distribution and data service, will interfere with their signals - an argument the FCC rejected.

Despite that, the second highest bidder and DTV Norwich's chief competitor in the current FCC auction is satellite TV provider EchoStar Communications, through South.com, which leads the bidding in 31 markets, having bid a total of more than $40 million so far. South.com is the lead bidder in areas including Boston, Washington, D.C., Hartford, Atlanta, Detroit, Seattle, Dallas, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Orlando, Fla.

A spokeswoman for Bethpage-based Cablevision declined to comment other than to confirm Voom is participating in the FCC auction through DTV Norwich, which is 51 percent owned by George Blumenthal, a founder of Cellular Communications and the British cable company NTL. NTL competed with Rupert Murdoch's British Sky Broadcasting but ended up in bankruptcy court.

The auction, which began Jan. 14, is expected to last several more weeks. License winners have five years to launch a new service.
 
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Sean Mota

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Entire Article

Yet another one...

MVDDS would give VOOM additional bandwidth for local high-definition channels, broaden its reach, and potentially allow it to provide high-speed data, a service technically difficult for satellite broadcasters.

"For VOOM, they still need some more bandwidth and to be available in more markets," said Guzman and Company analyst David Joyce.

A Cablevision spokeswoman confirmed that VOOM is participating in the FCC auction but declined to elaborate
 
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Sean Mota

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Here's another article with a different spin and some more interested information. I will highlight those interested comments:

Cablevision hasn't disclosed how many subscribers have signed up for Voom. It might do so when it reports fourth-quarter earnings March 2.

Ground-based technology offers a new alternative. Northpoint Technology Ltd. first proposed using a ground-based technology to compete with satellite TV firms.

Started in 1996, Northpoint lobbied Congress and the FCC to get a national license, along with spectrum, for free. Northpoint said its spectrum-sharing technology didn't interfere with signals of satellite TV firms.

In April 2002, the FCC decided to require that companies buy spectrum rights in an auction. Northpoint lost a legal fight to stop the auction last year.

Northpoint is not taking part in the FCC auction, which started Jan. 14. Sophia Collier, a Northpoint co-founder, did not return a phone call.

"Northpoint is much less active," said Schaeffler. "It took a big gamble and lost."

Bo Park, a Voom spokeswoman, also declined comment on the auction. Park says she doesn't know if Blumenthal has any direct ties, or is an investor, in Rainbow DBS.

The FCC is selling 214 licenses - spanning urban, suburban and rural markets - in the auction. The auction covers airwaves in the 12.2 GHz to 12.7 GHz spectrum range for MVDDS services. MVDDS systems use a network of wireless transmitters, placed in towers, to transmit video and data without wires.

Analysts say Rainbow DBS would most likely use the MVDDS licenses to provide more local channels in high-definition format or two-way Internet services. The Voom service offers movie and sports channels as well as national networks such as Disney and ESPN.

Park declined comment on how MVDDS licenses could fit into Rainbow DBS' plans.

It could take two years for Rainbow DBS to launch new services using MVDDS licenses, says analyst Schaeffler. He estimates that Voom has 10,000 to 20,000 customers.

EchoStar, which opposed Northpoint's technology because of interference issues, could benefit from the auction as well. EchoStar holds a 49.9% stake in another auction bidder, South.com LLC.

South.com has bid more than $42.4 million in the auction. As of Monday, DTV Norwich was the high bidder in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Tampa, Fla. South.com was tops in Boston; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Ore.; and Atlanta.

EchoStar spokesman Steve Caulk declined to comment too much on the auction. "Right now, we're exploring lots of different ways that we could supplement our (video) services with high-speed Internet," he said.

Another possibility, analysts say, is that EchoStar could acquire the MVDDS licenses in order to prevent rivals from acquiring the spectrum. In that scenario, EchoStar wouldn't be planning to launch MVDDS-based services itself.

EchoStar is also a minority investor in start-up WildBlue, which plans to launch a satellite-based Internet service in the second half of 2004.

Industry sources, though, say DirecTV also might be interested in teaming with WildBlue.

Another of WildBlue's investors is John Malone's Liberty Media Corp. Liberty owns 9% of the voting interest in News Corp., which bought DirecTV in December. Rupert Murdoch controls News Corp.
 
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Sean Mota

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The bidding has concluded and VOOM Spent 84.6 million for licenses in NY, Miami, LA, & Cleveland.

Echostar got Boston, Washington, D.C., Houston, Denver and San Diego, among others.

It will be interested to see what VOOM is going to do with this. They have 5 years to utilize them. We can see HD locals and two way internet in these cities. I wonder if they ever would work with Echostart to provide the HD locals?

Source

84.6 million for licenses that cover key markets like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Cleveland, among others, according to agency data.

Licensees will be able to offer one-way video and data services, among others, and must provide substantial service within five years. In the past, satellite companies have had trouble winning customers for high-speed Internet service.

South.com, in which satellite television provider EchoStar Communications Corp. has a 49.9 percent stake, won 37 licenses for $27.7 million. It won licenses that cover Boston, Washington, D.C., Houston, Denver and San Diego, among others.

The auction concluded with 10 bidders winning 192 licenses.

The winning bidders will be sharing the airwaves with direct broadcast satellite services like EchoStar as long as it does not create interference.

The technology would permit transmitting signals from local microwave towers, allowing enough bandwidth for hundreds of channels and high-speed Internet service.

The airwaves were in dispute because Northpoint Technology Ltd. went to the FCC seeking to use them to launch its own service that would offer television programing, local stations and wireless Internet service
 
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jabroni

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Dang, come to Columbus, Ohio Voom and we got a deal! :)
 

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