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The International Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission canceled EchoStar's Ka-Band authorizations at 83 degrees and 121 degrees, making the locations available for reassignment.

In its order, the bureau said EchoStar failed to satisfy construction milestones for the orbital locations. One milestone required the company to commence construction of its Ka-Band system by January 2002.

In addition, the FCC dismissed as moot a pending application from EchoStar seeking to modify its Ka-Band license to include a hybrid Ku/Ka-Band payload aboard one of its future satellites. The FCC order doesn't cover the 113-degree Ka-Band slot, which EchoStar got through its acquisition of VisionStar.

In response, the company said it has a satellite - EchoStar IX - under construction that is expected to have the first commercial Ka-Band payload serving the United States. The satellite, being built by Space Systems/Loral, is expected to be finished late summer, and launch is set for sometime late fall.

"For the FCC to revoke the license at this late hour based on an incorrect reading of the contract will have a chilling effect on the U.S. satellite industry," EchoStar said in a statement. The company said it will file a petition for reconsideration on the ruling, adding, "We are confident that once the FCC takes a closer look at the facts, it will reverse its decision and will reinstate the Ka-Band portion of the licenses."

The licenses also have Ku-Band and C-Band portions, which according to a company spokesperson were not touched by the FCC order.

Ka-Band, considered the next big leap forward for satellite communications services, has attracted interest among several companies, including PanAmSat and Pegasus. The new frequencies are expected to deliver satellite Internet/broadband services and some video offerings.

From SkyReport (Used with Permission)
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