The FCC is not only anxious to see broadband competition from America's wireline network providers, but it's trying to foster competition from skybound providers as well.
That idea was evident in a recent ruling revoking DBS provider EchoStar Communications' Ka-band satellite license. Ka-band is a new generation of communications satellites that will incorporate on-board processing and switching to provide two-way services through communication with small earth stations. Ka-band is often referred to as a "spot-beam" technology, in that the new satellites employ pencil-like beam transmissions to communicate with the station receivers set-up at user premises.
EchoStar has come out swinging after the FCC revocation, finding fault with the FCC's premise that the company had not begun construction of a Ka-band payload for one of its new satellites-a condition required under terms of the license. EchoStar vigorously defends its Ka-band payload construction schedule, claiming to be three years ahead of the launch date specified by the FCC. It claims construction of a Ka-band payload for the EchoStar IX satellite is complete, and that the company has paid almost $75 million so far in construction costs.
At the center of the FCC action is whether EchoStar has constructed Ka-band payload along a pre-defined timeline, and the company claims that it has met those requirements, and that the FCC has simply misread EchoStar's satellite contract documents. It will be up to the FCC to determine if in fact that indeed is the case.