Solaris files insurance claim over satellite difficulties

1 Jul 2009

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The less-than-expected payload of spectrum from the S-band frequency hosted on the Solaris W2A satellite launched in March means Dublin-based Solaris will be unable to offer all of the services it had hoped for.

The company, which is in the process of creating 50 jobs at its headquarters in Dublin, was one of four companies to submit an application to the European Commission in October 2008 for the rollout of S-Band Spectrum mobile satellite services under a single European selection procedure, instead of under 27 different national systems.

It had proposed to provide universal mobile broadband and mobile TV in all 27 member states.

The company said at the time that Solaris Mobile would be the only candidate operator that would meet European Commission expectations that cross-border mobile TV services are likely to start in 2009.

In March, the W2A satellite was launched into orbit to carry Europe’s first S-band payload, commercialised and operated by Solaris Mobile – a Eutelsat and SES ASTRA joint venture.

Solaris planned 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.

However, in a statement, the company revealed that the investigation of its S-band payload has found that it does not comply with the original specifications.

“Solaris Mobile believes that these non-compliances meet criteria to file a claim for the full insured value of the payload. This claim has been filed.”

The company said it will now be able to offer only some, not all, of the services it planned to offer.

A spokesperson for the company told siliconrepublic.com that Solaris will not reveal the amount of insurance it is claiming.

“Regarding services, Solaris continues to expect to offer audiovisual entertainment and information services to in-car reception devices and, at a later stage, certain interactive services from vehicles.

“It is also hoping to provide ‘reduced throughput’ TV services in one or more countries in Europe,” the spokesperson said.

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.

By John Kennedy

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com