Europe Wants Continent-Wide Licenses For MSS Services
[8/22/07 – Satellite Today] The European Commission believes the best way for the mobile satellite services (MSS) market to reach its potential is putting mechanisms in place so these services can be offered in a uniform fashion across Europe and said Aug. 22 it had adopted a proposal to select systems for MSS at the European level.
This new licensing process would allow services such as mobile TV, broadband data and emergency communications to develop smoothly throughout Europe in less than two years.
“The selection and authorization of services will follow the same format throughout all 27 EU Member States,” Viviane Reding, the EU’s telecoms commissioner, said in a statement. “This will reduce uncertainty for operators and will accelerate the creation of EU-wide services.”
A streamlined process would help providers avoid the pitfalls of the process becoming bogged down at the national level and create a single strong market for MSS in Europe rather than multiple individual markets for services.
“The potential for Europe-wide mobile satellite services is massive — think mobile television, think broadband for all, think public protection and disaster relief,” Reding said. “The new way the Commission proposes today to select mobile satellite services will give Europe’s industry the necessary confidence to invest in new EU-wide services for citizens. It will also help bridge the digital divide by improving coverage in the EU’s remote areas.”
If adopted by the European Parliament and the European Union (EU) Council of Telecom Ministers, the mechanism could be in placed as early as next year. The EC would “then publish an open call for proposals for interested companies to apply to set up systems for mobile satellite services.”
In terms of when the operators would be selected, the EC said, “The aim is to bring the 2-[gigahertz] bands into use as soon as possible while ensuring fairness for potential applicants. … The target date for completing the EU selection process is early 2009. It is expected that authorizations by relevant national authorities will follow shortly after the selection process.”
Operators throughout the EU can apply to offer mobile satellite services. The EC said geographical coverage could be key to an operator’s application and also said that “several satellite companies have already declared their interest in applying.”
In terms of whether operators would have to pay a Europe-wide licence fee, the EC said, “Only the selection of the operators of systems of mobile satellite services will be made at European level. Operators will be ‘licensed’ or ‘authorized’ by each member state, subject to a number of harmonised authorisation conditions. Some member states impose specific fees for using radio spectrum, others don’t. This is not expected to change. Nor is a European fee for operators foreseen.”