Europe gives go-ahead to satellite broadband and mobile TV player

19 Dec 2008

The European Commission has confirmed ambitious satellite firm Solaris Mobile as an ‘admissible candidate’ as part of the application process for the provision of satellite services.

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

Solaris Mobile was one of four companies to submit an application to the European Commission in October for the rollout of S-Band Spectrum mobile satellite services under a single European selection procedure, instead of under 27 different national systems.

The company said that with a state-of-the-art satellite due to be launched next spring, Solaris Mobile is the only candidate operator that will meet European Commission expectations that cross-border mobile TV services are likely to start in 2009. The company will be in the unique position of being able to offer mobile satellite services that empower existing and next-generation mobile hybrid networks, and enable the provision of innovative services to consumers across Europe.

Solaris Mobile, together with key industrial partners and media players, is actively establishing a harmonised ecosystem to optimise the delivery of mobile TV services, and broadband.

The company has also announced that it welcomes the recently published European Commission Guidelines for the provision of mobile TV services in EU countries.

“We look forward to the publication of similar guidelines for mobile satellite services,” said Maine. “We would especially support the commitment of the European Commission to award procedure guidelines that are public, transparent and defined in advance, as well as the aspiration that full interoperability and EU-wide mobile TV roaming will be important considerations for mobile TV service providers.

“The European Commission has also recognised that speed in service delivery will be key for global competitiveness, and, therefore, we are also in favour of the recommendation that frequencies made available for Mobile TV should be withdrawn if the service has not started within a reasonable time.”

With a focus on clear guidelines and light regulation, the European Commission is clearly supportive of the rapid rollout of mobile TV across Europe, and this is good news for companies such as Solaris Mobile. ”

Solaris plans to provide TV, video and radio, plus two-way communication to a variety of handheld and vehicle-mounted mobile devices. Solaris Mobile’s range of services, scheduled for launch in early 2009, is aimed primarily at broadcasters, telco operators, the automotive industry, and data and communication providers.

The company intends to operate in a 2.00 GHz frequency band, the S-band, reserved for the exclusive use of satellite and terrestrial mobile services. The S-band sits alongside UMTS frequencies that are already used across Europe for 3G terrestrial services.

By John Kennedy

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