Il giorno successivo nel dare la notizia il Financial Times osservava che la posta in gioco potrebbe essere interessante, specie se il satellite saprà essere una alternativa percorribile da vecchi e nuovi entranti in mercati ormai saturi come quello della telefonia mobile. Anche dal punto di vista regolamentare le frequenze della S-Band (tra i 2 e i 2.4 GHz) fanno notizia, almeno in Europa, dove secondo lo stesso quotidiano la Commissione starebbe per dare il via libera a una mega-licenza su scala continentale, favorendo due operatori "locali" (come Solaris Mobile e Inmarsat www.inmarsat.com) a detrimento dei due americani ICO Global e TerreStar. La licenza, afferma FT, consentirebbe di erogare servizi dal cielo in 27 nazioni. La European Satellite Operators Association ha realizzato una interessante brochure dedicato proprio alla regolamentazione dello spettro satellitare, che per evidenti ragioni, richiede più di altri un approccio davvero internazionale.
European groups set to win S-band radio rights
By Maija Palmer in London April 5 2009 20:15
Two European satellite companies are this week set to be awarded rights to a band of radio spectrum that could be used to create new Europe-wide mobile phone services.
Inmarsat, the UK-based satellite operator, and Solaris Mobile, a joint venture between Luxembourg-based SES Astra and Eutelsat of France, are expected to be given 18-year rights to S-band radio spectrum in 27 countries across Europe. The decision will leave the two US bidders, ICO Global Communications and TerreStar, disappointed.
The S-band licence is potentially very valuable. The European Commission has chosen to pool the S-band licences from all its member states, and award them in one block. Usually, bands of spectrum are awarded or auctioned on a country-by-country basis.
Mobile phone operators, such as Vodafone, have therefore had to spend years gathering licences for pan-European mobile phone coverage. The S-band spectrum has been earmarked specifically for satellite companies, and the European Commission has indicated it would like the spectrum to be used to develop services such as mobile television.
Steve Maine, chief executive of Solaris, said the company was considering new services, including mobile television, mobile radio, information delivery such as traffic data to cars, and communications systems for the emergency services.
But analysts believe the real value could come from satellite companies partnering with terrestrial mobile phone operators wanting to use the spectrum.
The S-band is quite close in frequency to third-generation mobile phone spectrum and could be used for mobile data. Existing 3G equipment, such as mobile handsets and masts, could be reconfigured to work with S-band. For mobile phone operators wanting more bandwidth for broadband services across Europe, this could be a good way in.
The S-band spectrum could also be used by a new entrant into the mobile phone market, for example, if Google wanted to build mobile broadband services across Europe. Google has invested in a company building satellite broadband coverage in Africa and has been active in building Wimax mobile broadband networks in the US. Whether a company such as this will step up for a partnership is still unclear.