Wed, May 5th 2010 7:10pm
Satellite-radio company Sirius XM has never been the best of friends with the FCC, thanks largely to the molasses-like speed with which the Commission moved to approve the Sirius-XM merger and the silly restrictions it attached to its approval -- measures which helped push the company into bankruptcy. The animosity is bubbling up again, as Sirius XM isn't happy that the FCC may soon allow some radio spectrum that's near the company's spectrum to be used for wireless broadband services. The spectrum in question is in the 2.3 GHz range. One chunk of it was auctioned off to telcos in 1997, and it's since been used for fixed backhaul transmissions for their networks, but the FCC (and the telcos) would like to see it used for wireless broadband services like WiMAX. An adjoining chunk is used by Sirius XM's network of terrestrial repeaters that complement its satellite signal coverage, and the company is concerned about those repeaters being overpowered and interfered with. This is the typical sort of posturing that comes out of any company who has spectrum that's "threatened" -- like broadcasters seeking to use regulation to stifle any competition from new technologies. The interference issues are important, but the FCC knows that, and typically works to ensure that they aren't a problem. What makes this objection from Sirius XM a little bit ironic, though, is that the the two companies have been cited in the past by the FCC because their terrestrial repeaters violated interference rules. Rules that allow for the more flexible use of spectrum -- while respecting interference -- are the best way forward for everyone, and like the NAB's spurious arguments against the Sirius-XM merger, the satellite company's objections should be rejected here.
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