Solaris hits lucky No 7 in European satellite licences

12 May 2010

Dublin-headquartered hybrid satellite and wireless operator Solaris has been granted 18-year licences to operate mobile satellite services in France, Sweden and Germany, bringing to seven the total number of licences it has for services in Europe.

Solaris Mobile, a Eutelsat and SES Astra joint venture, was established in early 2008 to develop next-generation mobile TV services via satellite.

The company plans to provide TV, video and radio plus two-way communication services to a variety of handheld and vehicle-mounted mobile devices.

The company is investing €150m in establishing a two-way communications global network for satellite communications. The company plans to employ 50 people in Dublin.

In May 2009, the European Commission awarded Solaris Mobile the right to operate satellite and terrestrial services in S-Band in all 27 EU member states. S-Band is spectrum residing in the 2GHz band and is adjacent to UMTS used by mobile 3G operators. 

These latest European licence authorisations will allow Solaris Mobile’s hybrid network to operate within the various EU countries and will enable the provision of voice and data services, TV, radio and other broadband services to mobile devices.

These hybrid networks being rolled out by Solaris Mobile were enabled after the European Commission selected the company to operate services in 2 x 15 MHz blocks of S-Band spectrum across Europe in May 2009.

What the licences mean

“Since the spectrum was granted by the European Commission last year, we have been actively pursuing licences from European member states,” said Steve Maine, chief executive officer, Solaris Mobile Ltd and founder of networking firm Kingston Communications.

“Steady progress has been achieved with seven of the countries required under the terms of the agreement with the Commission having granted authorisation for individual licences.

“These licences will allow us to go about deploying a combined terrestrial and satellite hybrid network which will deliver next-generation broadband and broadcast services, with the purpose of enhancing mobile communications across the whole of Europe,” Kingston said.

At present, Solaris Mobile is carrying out trials in Paris, demonstrating the broadcast of TV and radio services to phones, other handheld devices and cars – across the city and surrounding areas. The trial to date has been successful, and is due to roll out to other French cities, including Nancy and Rennes and selected additional European states in the near future. 

The year 2010 then saw the announcement of both Solaris Mobile’s corporate partnership with Europcar and the launch of the Pocket Gateway device, which allows reception of S-Band services to any smartphone.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Satellite and wireless operator Solaris has been granted 18-year licences to operate mobile satellite services in three countries: France, Sweden and Germany

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