Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Sirius' Back Seat Video Challenged

Today, satellite radio's arch nemesis, the WCS Coalition, launched a challenge to Sirius' bid to provide backseat video. The Coalition filed its complaint with the FCC under both the rules for satellite radio docket and the merger docket. It was a two-fold attack. The Coalition attacked right of Sirius to provide backseat video under the current FCC rules and challenged the out of band emissions imposed on the WCS licensees.

The Coalition urged the FCC to prohibit Sirius from launching backseat video until the FCC has implemented rules for the coexistence of WCS and DARS in the 2305-2360 MHz band. The Coalition asked the question, "... is Sirius even authorized to provide video programming of the sort it proposes on DARS spectrum?" They seemed to answer their own question, citing the follwing, 'the Commission has indicated that it would permit DARS licensees to provide so-called “ancillary services,” so long as such use was not “inconsistent with the international allocation.”' Video is consistent with international allocation; however, the Coalition makes the point that the FCC never specifically mentioned video. In our opinion, the FCC seemed to say that any service internationally authorized in the WCS band is suitable as an ancillary service for SDARS and video is specifically mentioned. Satellite radio is not permitted to have local broadcast and WCS is not permitted to have satellite service, other than SDARS.

The Coalition claims that the FCC has sought information from Sirius to determine whether backseat video qualifies as an ancillary service. To the Coalition's knowledge, Sirius has never complied and the FCC never issued a ruling permitting it.

Their supposed concern is that backseat video could cause more interferes than the audio service.

The Coalition also used the opportunity to criticize the out of band emission (OOBE) limits imposed on the WCS, claiming that they were overly protective. XM warned against this long ago, claiming that the WCS licensees were trying to change these limits and the there were entities buying up the spectrum on the speculation that the FCC would loosen the limits. Loosening the limits could potentially cause interference to satellite radio by the WCS licensees. The seemed to be setting up for a comprise. However, we believe that satellite radio should fight this tooth and nail. They claim that Sirius has says that the limits are "overly strict". They advise the FCC to ensure that any receiver is throughly evaluated to ensure it does cause more interference. The appear to be using their typically delay tactics. Expect NAB to chime in on this as well.

The WCS Coalition has been extremely successful in frustrating the satellite radio providers attempts to provide quality service to its subscribers. The Coalition should not be underestimated. Their chief member is the AT&T behemoth. If there has ever been a merger bad for consumers, this is it. They have crippled the satellite radio providers.

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