Be afraid, be very afraid.

Mon, 12/04/2000 - 7:00pm
Karen Kessler-Tanaka

EchoStar has admitted it may not be technically equipped to compete with cable's two-way broadband Internet-access service.

EchoStar, the second-largest direct-broadcast satellite provider, said the DBS's introduction of two-way Internet access is probably no match for cable's high-speed Internet service bundled with digital-video and, in some cases, local phone service.

In comments filed with the FCC, EchoStar said one-way Internet access by DBS "simply cannot compete" against cable and its recently launched two-way service "is relatively cumbersome to consumers."

EchoStar is a partner in StarBand Communications, which offers two-way high-speed Internet access and 150 video channels for the combined monthly price of $99. The service — which does not rely on EchoStar's satellites for data transmission — requires consumers to obtain new, larger dishes to receive both data and video.

While not explicitly calling on the FCC to require access to cable Internet facilities, EchoStar said cable likely had enough power in the video-distribution market to justify "subjecting cable-modem platforms to open-access requirements."

Given its own bandwidth constraints, EchoStar said it "needs such access to compete on a more even footing with the video/broadband bundles increasingly being offered by cable operators." On that basis, access to cable facilities should be open not only to Internet-service providers, but also to DBS carriers.

EchoStar said the FCC should not considering imposing access mandates on DBS because satellite providers neither control essential facilities nor possess market power akin to cable's.


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