EU Prods Member States To Develop S-band Legislation

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PARIS — The European Commission on Feb. 17 issued an “urgent call” to its member states to develop legislation needed to permit S-band mobile satellite broadband services by the commission’s May 2011 deadline, saying only six of the 27 European Union nations have done so in the 21 months since two companies were licensed to provide service.

Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said she has written to the 21 governments still lacking appropriate satellite broadband legislation, saying they “should urgently take all measures necessary” to permit mobile satellite broadband’s introduction throughout the European Union.

Kroes’ statement makes no mention of the fact that one of the two licensees, Inmarsat of London, has not begun to build its Europasat satellite because of lingering doubts about the market for the service and about the European regulatory environment.

The other licensee, Solaris Mobile of Dublin, Ireland, is a joint venture between satellite fleet operators SES of Luxembourg and Eutelsat of Paris. Its satellite, launched in May 2009 just before it received its license, has a defective S-band antenna and will be unable to perform all the services promised as a condition of its license.

Another factor complicating deployment of an S-band mobile broadband service is a lawsuit filed in a European court by ICO Global, which had planned to launch a constellation of S-band satellites into medium Earth orbit but ran out of money several years ago and currently has just one satellite in operation. ICO Global nonetheless received a license from the British government, and is protesting that it was unjustly excluded from the European licensing process.

 

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