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EC Takes Charge of EU Failure to Deploy Mobile Satellite Broadband Services

Posted: 11th Oct, 2011 By: MarkJ
european union map flagsatellite uk broadbandThe European Commission (EC) has forcibly taken over responsibility for coordinating the pan-European deployment of mobile Satellite services (MSS), which could help to deliver broadband internet and TV services into remote areas. The move follows a continued failure by two mobile operators and multiple member states, including the UK, to deploy related services before the EC's deadline.

On 16th May 2009 the EC gave the green light for the UK's Inmarsat and Dublin-based Solaris Mobile to deploy mobile satellite services via the 2GHz (1980–2010MHz and 2170–2200MHz) spectrum band around Europe (here). Both operators and EU member states were given until May 2011 "at the latest" to complete this work.

In February 2011 the EC warned that 21 EU Member States had failed to put in place all the necessary legislative measures (here). For example, the UK had managed to implement the Main Statutory Instrument, although three other statutory instruments required for Complementary Ground Component (CGC) terminals (used to relay satellite signals) and fees were still pending. The May 2011 deadline came and went.

Neelie Kroes, EC Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, said:

"We gave the two selected operators two years to deploy their systems. The time has now come for effective enforcement. Either operators deliver on their promises, or the spectrum which they have available, which is a scarce resource, should be used in other ways".

Kroes claims that the move will also make it easier for Member States to "decide on potential breaches identified by a competent national authority", which will now be handled by the EC's Communications Committee and could include the imposition of sanctions or more effective remedies if required.

Since then Ofcom has been making progress with related consultations, which in fairness is very difficult at a time when regulators are already being overloaded with a mass of new telecommunications regulation. 2GHz MSS solutions are unlikely to have much of an impact in the UK anyway, at least not in the consumer market.

MSS might indeed be smaller, more portable and able to cover "large territories" but they're often also expensive and their applications can be somewhat niche. Fixed Satellite services, such as those being delivered by Eutelsat (KA-SAT) and Avanti (HYLAS 1) based ISPs, are usually faster, more flexible and probably a lot cheaper (for now).
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