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Angels and Demons

There was good news and bad news this week for Solaris Mobile, a new European satellite mobile TV operator. First the good news; the European Commission announced today that Solaris Mobile (Dublin, Ireland) and Inmarsat have received the required frequencies to offer services in Europe, notes EE Times.

Solaris Mobile, a joint venture between SES Astra and Eutelsat, plans to provide mobile video and broadband access, navigation and emergency assistance services to broadcasters, telco operators, and the automotive industry throughout Europe. Both it and the Inmarsat consortium have been awarded licenses for 18 years of two 15MHz bands of spectrum in the S-band.

The operators will now be able to build a hybrid network using satellite capacity and terrestrial repeaters in order to provide MSS services. The operators were favourites to win the contest, which also included two U.S. bidders, ICO and TerreStar. The decision has been long in coming and the awarding of the licenses has been mired in controversy. Commercial service should start within 24 months, the Commission said.

Steve Maine, CEO, Solaris Mobile said: “We are delighted with the spectrum award which marks a critically important milestone for innovative mobile satellite services in Europe. We welcome the European Commission’s efficient handling of a very complex procedure, and now look forward to obtaining our national authorizations as soon as possible.”

The bad news for Solaris is that their initial S-band payload on the Eutelsat W2A satellite is malfunctioning. Solaris Mobile says (pdf) that the S-band payload on the W2A satellite launched on April 3 indicate an anomaly which requires further tests. The company added it remains confident it will be able to meet the commitments made under the S-band allocation process, and said it is evaluating a range of options to deal with the problem. The WGS spacecraft offers X-band and Ka band with steerable spotbeams.

American satellite operator ICO is challenging the European Commission’s decision. “We believe the just-concluded EU process jeopardizes years of international cooperation and coordination that has governed satellite communications worldwide,” commented Michael Corkery, acting chief executive officer of ICO today.

ICO launched their G1 satellite, with a 40 foot antenna, over the United States in April of 2008. It was the largest satellite yet into space. ICO plans to deliver video and interactive services directly to vehicles in North America via roof-mount vehicle antenna. So far it’s been station-keeping.

In June of 2009, TerreStar, an even larger satphone bird, is expected to unfurl its gold mesh 60 foot antenna and aim it at the United States. TerreStar-1 will pick up signals from phones that are not much larger than regular cell phones and has a roaming agreement with AT&T for calls that don’t go through the satellite. An even larger one, the $1.2 billion SkyTerra monster next year will operate at a lower frequency. They plan to use the L-Band, around 1.6 GHz, for similar satellite phone service.

For now ICO, SkyTerra and TerreStar (which will cover North America) aren’t using their spectrum for ground-based communications. Eventually, however, the companies could put their frequencies to use with their own cell towers on the ground — or sub-lease that spectrum to other carriers.

In Japan, mobile satellite television is supplied by MBSAT from Mobile Broadcasting Corporation using a three-axis attitude stabilized geostationary satellite designed and manufactured by Space Systems / Loral. It’s based on the SS/L 1300 bus and featured a 12m-aperture (40 foot) S band high gain antenna.

Toshiba said the Japanese service has failed to attract sufficient customers in the face of demand for free mobile broadcasting services that are targeting mobile handsets. Toshiba said it will dissolve the company and end services by March of next year. It is expected to cost Toshiba about $232 million. The company launched the service in Oct. 2004.

In 2005, South Korea began a similar mobile TV service using Satellite-DMB (S-DMB) and terrestrial DMB (T-DMB) service. Since launching in May 2005, South Korea’s TU Media has signed up more than one million subscribers, uses the S-DMB (satellite digital multimedia broadcasting) standard, offering 15 video and 19 audio channels.

Related satellite phone and mobile tv stories on DailyWireless include: Multi-media Sat for Europe, Bus TV in Raleigh, WiMAX on the Moon, WiMAX and/or Satellite, Godzilla SatPhones WiMAXed, Canadians Launch Spotbeam DBS Satellite, Globalstar: We Bad, Inmarsat F3 Successfully Launched, Globalstar Gets ATC, Inmarsat Does SCADA, Satphones Get Qualcomm Cell Roaming Chips, TerreStar Roams with AT&T, Skyterra/MSV Get $500M, HughesNet + Wayport + ICO/DVB-SH, ICO Deploys 40 Foot Antenna, ICO G-1 In Space, MSS: Battle Space, Satphones: Merger Ahead?, Chrysler Offers Internet Access, ATSC Mobile TV Tested, Streaming Media West 2008 , Live Mobile Coverage, Qik Goes Live — Everywhere, 2008 Summer Olympics: On Demand, WiMAX for TV Remote Feeds, Mobile WiMAX: Live in Idaho Falls, Mobile Livecasting, Webcasting Concerts, Emergency Communications Applications, Emergency Communications SimDay, What’s Dish Network Planning?, Satphones: Merger Ahead?, America to Bomb the Moon, Satphone Terrestrial Repeaters: Uncertain, TerreStar Roams with AT&T, Skyterra/MSV Get $500M, MSS: Battle Space, ICO Deploys 40 Foot Antenna, ICO Wants Its Mobile TV – via DVB-SH, Spot Beam Sats Multiply, Satphones: Merger Ahead?, Inmarsat + SkyTerra = Spectrum Sharing, Satellite Repeaters – Grounded In Reality?, MSS: AWS Alternative?, Eutelsat HotBird 8, Globalstar in Trouble, GlobalStar: Give Us Repeater Freqs, Satphones Localize, John Malone in Space, T-Mobile Plans UMTS, AWS: It’s Done, Fight for the Right (of 3.5GHz), and The AWS & 700MHz Dance, Dish TV Gets Lucky, Vietnam Launches Its First Satellite, Spot Beam Sats Multiply, TerreStar to FCC: Almost Done, TerreStar Gets a Slot, Birthday for Morse and 100th Anniversary of Wireless.

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