EC Calls For Urgent Action On Satellite Broadband

The introduction of pan-European satellite broadband services could be blocked by legal obstacles

Neelie Kroes, the European Commission’s vice president for the Digital Agenda, has written to 21 of the EU’s 27 member states – including the UK – urging them to remove the legal obstacles to the introduction of satellite broadband as a matter of “urgency”.

In 2009 the EC selected two operators to provide pan-European satellite services, with a deadline of May 2011 for the services to go live. However, as yet, 21 countries still haven’t adopted the regulations needed to handle such aspects as licence fees.

Matter of urgency

“Member States should urgently take all measures necessary to allow the introduction of mobile satellite services throughout the EU,” Kroes said in a statement.

She said satellite-based Internet services were important in boosting innovation in the EU and in making connectivity available in remote areas.

“Mobile satellite services have an important role to play in providing innovative services to businesses and citizens across Europe, including in rural or remote areas, and in meeting our Digital Agenda targets of making broadband available to everyone in Europe,” she wrote.

The companies selected to provide services are Inmarsat Ventures and Solaris Mobile. Solaris Mobile was jointly formed by Eutelsat and SES Astra to provide services in the S-band.

Kroes’ letter targeted Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

The satellite systems are intended to handle Internet, mobile television and radio or emergency communications, according to the EC.

Digital divide

Solaris Mobile’s parent company Eutelsat in December put its KA-SAT satellite into orbit via a Proton Breeze M rocket supplied by International Launch Services.

Built for Eutelsat by Astrium using the Eurostar E3000 platform, the KA-SAT is a new generation of multi-spotbeam satellite. Its concept is based on a payload with 82 narrow spotbeams connected to 10 ground stations. This configuration enables frequencies to be reused 20 times and takes total throughput beyond 70 Gbps.

The company said the combination of KA-SAT’s capacity and ViaSat’s SurfBeam technology will make it possible to deliver Internet connectivity for more than 1 million homes, at speeds comparable to ADSL.

Meanwhile, British-based Avanti Communications lanched the HYLAS1 satellite in November 2010, which can provide up to 10Mbps broadband to most of Europe.