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Brussels, 22 August 2007

Commission boost for mobile satellite services paves the way for EU-wide high speed data communications

The Commission today has adopted a proposal to select systems for mobile satellite services at European level. If adopted by the European Parliament and the EU Council of Telecom Ministers, this new selection mechanism will allow innovative services, such as mobile TV, broadband data and emergency communications to develop smoothly throughout Europe as of 2009.

"The potential for Europe-wide mobile satellite services is massive - Think mobile television, think broadband for all, think public protection and disaster relief," said Viviane Reding, the EU's Telecoms Commissioner. "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."

The overall market for space and its applications is about €70 billion globally, growing at some 7% per year. Mobile satellite systems can provide many advanced services, even reaching remote areas that were previously uneconomic to serve.

But existing international rules for satellite communications do not cover licensing. And under current EU Telecom rules, the selection of operators is essentially national, leading to diverging national approaches to selection and authorisation. This risks impeding the growth of pan-European mobile satellite systems.

If adopted by Parliament and Council, today's proposed new mechanism will ensure that there is one, not 27 markets in Europe for mobile satellite services.

Stakeholders and Member States have strongly supported this proposal for EU-wide coordination because satellite communications reach across borders and significant economies of scale will result from consistent national authorisations throughout Europe.

Such coordination will also lead to a more efficient use of spectrum and will reduce the risk of harmful interference.

Today's proposal will provide the basis for a single comparative selection procedure organised by the Commission in cooperation with Member States. Once the decision proposed today by the Commission to install the new mechanism is adopted, the Commission will publish an open call for applications. The candidate systems' quality will be assessed technically and commercially. Further assessment criteria will include geographic coverage, consumer and competitive benefits, the fulfilment of public policy objectives, and spectrum efficiency. Selected operators will be subsequently authorised nationally, based on the process in the new EU Decision.

Thanks to the new mechanism proposed today, the selection and authorisation of services will follow the same format throughout all 27 EU Member States. This will reduce uncertainty for operators and will accelerate the creation of EU-wide services. However, the procedure to arrive there is still lengthy and quite cumbersome. Therefore the Commission will consider further improvements in this autumn's review of the EU telecom rules (on the review, see IP/06/874). This will include provisions to establish a generic mechanism to deal with similar future pan-European cases.

To bring the mobile satellite service-reserved 2 GHz 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.

For further information:

For the full text of the proposal adopted by the Commission today and background information:


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