Northpoint makes its point again

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Northpoint Technology last week again told the FCC that potential competitor MDS America is misrepresenting itself, while MDS said Northpoint's claims are politically motivated and self-serving.

"MDS's failure to properly substantiate the claims it made to the Commission about its systems capabilities and track record calls into question its fitness to be a licensee," Northpoint said in a statement late this week. Northpoint says that instead of truly sharing satellite spectrum, as Northpoint says it proposes to do, MDS America fits services into the spaces between satellite channels. Northpoint says this method does not use the spectrum as efficiently as Northpoint's system would.

In response, MDS says Northpoint purposely ignores the way MDS's system works in order to make its point. MDS America CEO Kirk Kirkpatrick says that in France, for example, its test system in Lyon overlaps the French satellite provider, Astra, on two channels. "We are willing to compete on the basis of our technology and with anyone who wants to compete on a free-market basis," Kirkpatrick says. "Northpoint is trying to use political influence to acquire that which the law requires to be auctioned to the general public."

Northpoint says because it offers unique technology, the FCC must allow it exclusive and free access to spectrum between 12.2 GHz and 12.7 GHZ to offer terrestrially delivered multichannel and high-speed data services. The FCC has allocated that spectrum uniquely to direct broadcast satellite providers.

MDS says it already offers such services. If the FCC determines that MDS America is a legitimate competitor to Northpoint, FCC rules suggest the commission will have to auction the licenses to the highest bidder. - Paige Albiniak

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