Ambitious satellite broadband plan submitted to EU

7 Oct 2008

A high-potential technology start-up has submitted an ambitious proposal to the European Union that will provide universal mobile broadband and mobile TV in all 27 member states.

Solaris Mobile, which is headed by former Kingston Communications CEO Steve Maine, is currently in the process of establishing its European headquarters in Dublin where it plans to employ 50 people.

The company is investing €130m in establishing a two-way communications global network for satellite communications.

Solaris Mobile, a Eutelsat and SES Astra joint venture, was established earlier this year to develop next-generation mobile TV services via satellite. The company’s services will be aimed at broadcasters, telecoms operators, the automotives industry and data communications providers.

The company has submitted an application to the European Commission in response to a call for applications for pan-European systems providing mobile satellite services.

The aim of Solaris is to create the infrastructure to enable deployment of a fully-fledged TV experience on mobile devices on an ‘anytime, anywhere’ basis. The key difference with this venture is to allow satellite infrastructure to complement or even compete with existing terrestrial networks for the provision of broadcasting services to mobile devices.

In a previous interview with, Maine said the company’s first satellite – the Thales 1 – which is being built in Cannes will have a larger antenna and more power, and power will be concentrated into specific areas.

“It will represent a quantum leap in technology and will open up a mass market for TV and people on the move,” he said at the time.

The successful applicant to the European Commission’s pan-European call for systems providing mobile satellite services will be able to provide innovative mobile services, such as mobile TV reception, high-speed data transfers, public safety, disaster recovery and remote medical communications via satellite, anywhere within the 27 member states of the European Union. In addition, operators may deploy complementary terrestrial networks where necessary.

Maine said the move by the European Commission promises to be a landmark development for European mobile communications.

“This timing complements our investments, with our commitment in 2006 to procure a satellite payload from Thales Alenia Space in France.

“Solaris Mobile will be in the unique position of being able to offer mobile satellite services as early as 2009, empowering state-of-the-art mobile networks and enabling innovative services to consumers across Europe, well ahead of the Commission’s deadline of 2011,” Maine said.

He said Solaris will continue working with European consumers, regulators, network operators, equipment and solutions vendors, car manufacturers, content and service providers to make this vision become a reality within the next twelve months.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years