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Mon January 26, 2004 03:35 PM ET


(Page 1 of 2)

By Michael Learmonth

NEW YORK (Reuters) - VOOM, the satellite TV service set to be spun off from New York-area cable company Cablevision Systems, is the top bidder for licenses to build a U.S. wireless video and data network, according to Federal Communications Commission figures.


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 the MVDDS signal is transmitted from local microwave towers, allowing enough bandwidth for hundreds of channels and high-speed Internet service.


Satellite broadcasters had initially opposed the technology and some are suing in federal court to stop it, claiming the spectrum is already too crowded and that local microwave antennas would interfere with their signals from space.


But the participation of VOOM in the auction gives additional clues to the nascent satellite broadcaster's strategy. Cablevision and its visionary founder, Charles Dolan, have been roundly criticized by analysts for the venture, a high-definition satellite service that requires viewers to buy a receiver for $749.99.


VOOM and parent Rainbow DBS Company LLC will be spun off as a separate company from Cablevision as soon as a U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission probe into expense accounting at subsidiary Rainbow Media is completed. The companies expect the probe to end in the first quarter.


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.


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 49.9 percent-owned by EchoStar Communications Corp. , which 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.

http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.j...toryID=4210849
 

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Here are a couple of more articles:

http://uk.biz.yahoo.com/040126/80/ekezr.html
http://money.cnn.com/2004/01/13/tech.../microwave_tv/

Quote:
Experts in the field say that the new system could provide a lower-cost way to bring hundreds of channels of programming, including interactive and high definition television, as well as high speed Internet connections, into homes. That in turn could provide competition needed to put downward pressure on cable and satellite television rates.


"It's a tremendous opportunity," said Richard Doherty research director Envisioneering Group, a technology consulting firm which is not working with any of the bidders. "There's no lower cost, high bandwidth way to reach consumers."
There aren't any more recent stories than these which report on the auction results back in January. I seem to recall a couple of years ago that this technology was just invented and that the FCC was looking favorably on giving licenses to the inventor.


However, it's clear that they decided to auction off DMA-exclusive licenses and that DTV Norwich (allied with Voom) and South.com (allied with Charlie Ergen) bid for the most DMAs and the biggest DMAs.


But satellite companies are talking about suing in court to prevent deployment because the MVDDS services would use the same spectrum. Yet Voom and Dish decided to bid on licenses.
 

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Local microwave towers? Gee, kinda like Ma Bell used to use for Long Distance way back when? It's called TI or Terrestrial Interference and C-Band users have dealt with it for years. It's sometimes difficult to rectify for the Big Ugly Dish but for a DBS sized dish it shouldn't be a problem at all. The DBS companies would've uttered nary a peep if these licenses would've been used for a service that wasn't in competition with them (I.E. wireless telephony).
 

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I think the Voom advocates point to the MVDDS licenses it's won as pointing to a supplement to Voom's offerings.


But in reality, this may be a competitor to Voom and the other satellite cos. (and the cable). If it's true that this technology delivers more bandwidth at the lowest prices, then I don't know why the parent company bothers with Voom.


Of course, they had to bid for each DMA but it looks like they spent the money to get the biggest DMAs. And these are exclusive licenses so they don't have to worry about a competing MVDDS service in the markets it's won.
 
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