The European Commission yesterday adopted a proposal to select systems for mobile satellite services at EU level. If approved by the European Parliament and the Council of Telecom Ministers, the new selection mechanism will speed up the rollout of services such as mobile TV and high-speed broadband from 2009.
“The new way the Commission proposes to select mobile satellite services will give Europe’s industry the necessary confidence to invest in new EU-wide services for citizens,” said Viviane Reding, the EU’s Telecoms Commissioner. “It will also help bridge the digital divide by improving coverage in the EU’s remote areas.”
She said the potential for Europe-wide mobile satellite services was massive, encompassing ubiquitous mobile television and broadband and public protection and disaster relief.
Under current EU telecom rules, the selection of operators is essentially national, leading to diverging national approaches to selection and authorisation which risks impeding the growth of pan-European mobile satellite systems.
If this new mechanism is approved it will ensure that there is one, not 27 markets in Europe for mobile satellite services.
Significant economies of scale will result from consistent national authorisations throughout Europe. Such coordination will also lead to a more efficient use of spectrum and will reduce the risk of harmful interference.
Once the mechanism is adopted, the Commission will publish an open call for applications from mobile operators. The selection and authorisation of services will follow the same format throughout all 27 EU member states. Selected operators will be subsequently authorised in their own national jurisdictions based on the process in the new EU decision.
Additions to the proposal will be considered during this autumn’s review of the EU telecoms rules.
To bring the mobile satellite service-reserved 2 GHz bands into use as soon as possible while ensuring fairness for potential applicants, the target date for completing the EU selection process is early 2009.
By Niall Byrne