Echostar vs Intelsat orbital squabble

It might seem cheeky, but rules are rules, and Intelsat is exploiting its fractional advantage for all its worth, leaving Echostar mightily upset.

It seems Echostar made a formal filing for some satellite bandwidth released by the Federal Communications Commission on the morning of May 23. The capacity covered C-band frequencies at 85 deg West, which is home to SES Americomís AMC-16 craft (and adjacent to XMís sat-radio birds at 85.1).

So far so good. But the Echostar filing was stamped at 10.50am, and the alleged rules say that filings can only be made after 11am. We say ďalleged rulesĒ because there seems to be some dispute over whether this is a rule or not. Anyway, Intelsat is claiming it is in a rule book somewhere and so Echostarís filing should be dismissed, and their filing (in the name of wholly-owned subsidiary PanAmSat) made at 11am, and duly stamped and time-coded, for the same frequencies/same orbital position should now take priority.

Echostar, always ready with a lawyer or two, is now applying to the FCC for the Intelsat/PAS bid to be opposed. Intelsatís statement is that they were simply following a procedure that the FCC had communicated in a public briefing several years ago, and has assorted proofs up its sleeve to reinforce its case. Echostarís filing now says: ďThere is no rule establishing 11am as the appropriate time to file first-come, first-served applications. Granting Intelsatís motion to dismiss EchoStarís applications would impose a draconian penalty (i.e., loss of an orbital slot) on a provider with a relatively small FSS (fixed-service satellite) business and reward the large incumbent.Ē