Northpoint Plans DBS, Internet Service

Potentially offering competition to satellite TV powerhouses EchoStar and DirecTV, Northpoint Technology Ltd. has asked FCC permission to launch two DBS satellites that promise 300 channels of video programming and 2 Mbps Internet service.

The "Compass" will allow broadcast of local stations by a terrestrial component of the system, the company said. It will also offer a modular $99 basic set-top box as a video-on-demand gateway, plus an optional digital video recorder. The company would not say what manufacturers it is working with to produce the hardware.

EchoStar, DirecTV and the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association said they had not yet reviewed Northpoint's FCC application, but have long opposed Northpoint's terrestrial system, which they say would cause interference for current DBS subscribers.

"If the Commission decides to ignore the proven interference that Northpoint's proposed terrestrial wireless cable service would cause to DBS consumers, the law still requires that the Commission auction the publicly owned spectrum," said SBCA President Andy Wright.