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Selection and authorisation of systems providing mobile satellite services

Mobile satellite services (MSS) present enormous potential at the European Union (EU) level. Their deployment contributes to reducing the geographical digital divide by enabling citizens to benefit from innovations in telecommunications and broadcasting (high-speed internet, mobile television, emergency communications, etc.). This Decision aims to develop a pan-European market for mobile satellite services by introducing a unique selection procedure of economic operators at the Community level.

ACT

Decision No 626/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June 2008 on the selection and authorisation of systems providing mobile satellite services (MSS).

SUMMARY

This Directive aims to create an internal market for mobile satellite services (MSS) open to competition and to reduce the digital divide by progressively improving coverage in less developed areas of the European Union (EU).

The Decision establishes a unique selection procedure at EU level and set outs common authorisation conditions for the operators of mobile satellite systems* by the 27 Member States. This will enable an effective use of the 2 GHz frequency band, comprising radio spectrum from 1 980 to 2 010 MHz for earth to space communications, and from 2 170 to 2 200 MHz for space to Earth communications.

Selection procedure

After the call for applications, the Commission shall organise a comparative selection procedure for operators. This procedure will comply with strict rules on transparency, fairness and non-discrimination. External experts may assist the Commission in assessing the applications.

Operators submitting an application must comply with the following eligibility criteria:

  • they shall be established in the Community;
  • they shall identify the amount of radio spectrum requested. This should be no more than 2 x 15 MHz. Evidence concerning the radio spectrum requested, the required milestones and the selection criteria should also be appended to the application;
  • they shall commit to providing mobile satellite systems covering at least 60 % of the aggregate land area of the Member States from the launch of the project and at least 60 % of the aggregate land area of each Member State by the time stipulated by the applicant or no later than seven years from the date of the selection decision.

The Commission may request additional information on the eligibility criteria. The applicant has between five and twenty working days to provide the requested information.

The selection procedure comprises two phases:

  • In the first selection phase, the Commission shall assess whether applicants have demonstrated the required level of technical and commercial development of their respective mobile satellite systems. Such assessment shall rely on the satisfactory completion of five pre-defined milestones (including satellite manufacturing and the satellite launch agreement).
  • In the second selection phase, the technical and commercial quality of the mobile satellite systems offered by the applicants is assessed according to criteria based on geographical coverage, benefits for consumers, the achievement of policy objectives and spectrum efficiency.

The Commission shall publish the list of selected operators who must then obtain authorisation at the national level.

Authorisation

Member States shall guarantee the selected operators the right to use radio frequencies and to use a mobile satellite system. These rights are subject to compliance with the following conditions:

  • selected operators must use the radio spectrum for the provision of MSS assigned to them;
  • selected operators must follow the milestones regarding satellite mating, the launch of satellites, frequency coordination and the provision of MSS within the territories of Member States (see the Annex to the Decision 626/2008/EC), in the two years following their selection;
  • selected operators must honour the commitments made during the selection procedure;
  • selected operators must provide an annual report to the competent authorities of all Member States ;
  • the rights of use and authorisations shall be granted for a duration of eighteen years from the date of the selection decision.

Complementary ground components

Once operators have been selected and authorised to carry out their activities in the 2 GHz frequency band, Member States must issue the necessary authorisations for the use of complementary ground components* of mobile satellite systems in compliance with certain common conditions. In particular, operators must use the assigned radio spectrum for the provision of complementary ground components and use them in an integrated way with the associated satellite system. In case of failure of the satellite component of the mobile satellite system, independent operation of complementary ground components shall not exceed a limited period of eighteen months. Lastly, the rights of use and authorisations of complementary components shall be granted up to the expiry of the authorisation of the mobile satellite system.

Committee

The Commission shall be assisted by the Communications Committee.

Context

This Decision forms part of the guidelines of the European Parliament Resolution of 14 February 2007 entitled "Towards a European Policy on the Radio Spectrum Policy", which emphasises the importance of the diffusion of broadband, mobile communications and new wireless technologies in achieving universal coverage in the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU).

Pan-European satellite services also enable the expansion of geographical coverage of broadband in line with the i2010 initiative.

Key terms of the Act

  • Mobile satellite system: electronic communications networks and associated facilities capable of providing radio-communications services between a mobile earth station and one or more space stations, or between mobile earth stations by means of one or more space stations, or between a mobile earth station and one or more complementary ground components used at fixed locations. Such a system shall include at least one space station.
  • Complementary ground components of mobile satellite systems: ground-based stations used at fixed locations, in order to improve the availability of mobile satellite systems in geographical areas within the footprint of the system’s satellite(s), where communications with one or more space stations cannot be ensured with the required quality.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition into the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 626/2008/EC

2.7.2008

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OJ L 172 of 2.7.2008

Last updated: 18.09.2008
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