CONGRESSIONALLY-MANDATED INDEPENDENT TEST CONFIRMS NORTHPOINT’S PROPOSED SYSTEM “POSES A SIGNIFICANT INTERFERENCE THREAT TO DBS”
--MITRE Results Validate Satellite TV Providers’ Tests That Demonstrated Harmful Interference To DBS Signals--
ALEXANDRIA, VA, April 24, 2001 – The Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association (SBCA), DIRECTV, Inc. and EchoStar Communications welcome the report submitted to the Federal Communications Commission by the MITRE Corporation that concludes that Northpoint’s proposed terrestrial service “poses a significant interference threat” to direct broadcast satellite (DBS) subscribers’ television service if Northpoint were permitted to operate in the DBS Band.
“MITRE’s findings confirm the results of tests conducted by DIRECTV and EchoStar of Northpoint transmissions. Those tests also showed that DBS customers would suffer harmful interference if a terrestrial system such as Northpoint is permitted to operate in the DBS spectrum band,” said SBCA President Chuck Hewitt. “The satellite TV providers and the SBCA have claimed from the outset that Northpoint’s proposed terrestrial service would cause harmful interference to DBS signals, and the independent tests conducted by MITRE have unequivocally validated our conclusion.”
Interference such as that identified in the MITRE tests cannot be mitigated as a simple matter. “The consumer mitigation techniques suggested in the MITRE report are egregious, and far too burdensome for any consumer who is happily enjoying DBS service,” added Hewitt. “Spectrum sharing should not occur simply for the sake of sharing, especially if consumers and competition are forced to pay the ultimate price.”
The FCC has a statutory obligation to protect the DBS providers, which are the primary users of the frequency band, from harmful interference. The only way to ensure that 15 million plus DBS households served by DIRECTV and EchoStar – equaling over 40 million viewers -- are protected from interruption of their TV service is to continue the FCC’s long-standing policy of keeping the DBS spectrum free of terrestrial users. The FCC has set aside spectrum other than the DBS spectrum specifically for use by “wireless cable” services like the one being proposed by Northpoint. Their system would be better suited for that spectrum, thus negating the need for spectrum sharing in the DBS frequency band.
“We have always said, and as the MITRE test results underscore, that this dispute is about interference not competition,” concluded Hewitt. “If Northpoint will operate its wireless cable system in spectrum the FCC has set aside for that purpose, and not interfere with our customers, we will welcome the competition.”
If the FCC permits Northpoint to share the DBS band, it will be jeopardizing the competition that has been created since DBS’ entry into the multichannel video market. In light of the MITRE test results, the SBCA and the satellite TV providers again urge the FCC to reject Northpoint’s plan to operate its proposed terrestrial service in the DBS band.