MDS wins experimental DBS license

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MDS America, a company that builds terrestrial wireless systems all over the world using DBS's 12.2-12.7 GHz spectrum, has won an experimental test license from the FCC through May 1, 2002.

"Using tower-mounted transmitters to beam signals terrestrially in the shared DBS spectrum will benefit consumers by offering a competing service that does not conflict with existing satellite services," said Kirk Kirkpatrick, President and CEO of MDS America. "That will benefit consumers everywhere, particularly those in rural areas for whom satellite TV and Internet services are now the only alternative."

MDS will be testing its services in Florida. The DBS industry opposed the FCC's move, saying it should have made MDS America's request open for public comment before granting the license. "The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association, DIRECTV, and EchoStar Communications object strongly to the FCC's improvident grant of an experimental license to yet another company, MDS America," said SBCA President Chuck Hewitt.

MDS America is a latecomer to the debate, spearheaded by Northpoint Technology, over whether the DBS spectrum can successfully be shared by terrestrial video systems. MDS America told the FCC in March that it has been building such systems all over the world for the past five years with no reports of interference. Northpoint is vying for exclusive use of the band, while MDS is pushing for auctions. - Paige Albiniak

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