1.1. EU selection process

On 27 February 2007, the European Commission adopted Decision No 2007/98/EC1, which aimed to promote European harmonisation of the use of 2 GHz frequency bands by systems providing Mobile-Satellite Services.

Given the cross-border nature of services concerned, the advantages of pan-European coverage were undeniable, as fragmentation of the internal market would be prevented and complex harmful interference situations would be avoided. As such, it was additionally considered that 2 GHz MSS system operators should be selected and authorized at Community level.

The legal framework for this process was laid down in Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 30 June 2008 (Decision No 626/2008/EC)2, which defined a Community procedure for the selection of 2 GHz MSS operators as well as applicable common obligations, the authorization of selected operators being subsequently incumbent on each Member State, at national level.

As such, under paragraph 1 of article 7 of Decision No 626/2008/EC, Member States must ensure that selected applicants have the right to use the specific radio frequencies identified in the Commission decision and the right to operate a mobile satellite system, in accordance with the time frame and the service area to which they have committed themselves, in accordance with paragraph 1c) of article 4 and with national and Community law.

Paragraph 2 of the referred provision establishes common conditions to which these rights of use are subject, namely:

a) selected applicants shall use the assigned radio spectrum for the provision of MSS;
b) selected applicants shall meet milestones six to nine set out in the Annex within 24 months of the selection decision adopted pursuant to Articles 5(2) or 6(3);
c) selected applicants shall honour any commitments they give in their applications or during the comparative selection procedure, irrespective of whether the combined demand for radio spectrum exceeds the amount available;
d) selected applicants shall provide to the competent authorities of all Member States an annual report detailing the status of development of their proposed mobile satellite system;
e) Any necessary rights of use and authorisations shall be granted for a duration of eighteen years from the date of the selection decision adopted pursuant to Articles 5(2) or 6(3).

At the end of the selection procedure3, Commission Decision No 2009/449/EC4, of 13 May 2009, was published, having thus been selected, as a result of the first selection phase, the operators Inmarsat Ventures Limited (which was authorized to use in each Member State the sub-bands from 1980 to 1995 MHz for earth to space communications and from 2170 to 2185 MHz for space to earth communications) and Solaris Mobile Limited (SML) which was authorized to use in each Member State the sub-bands from 1995 to 2010 MHz for earth to space communications and from 2185 to 2200 MHz for space to earth communications).

1 On the harmonised use of radio spectrum in the 2 GHz frequency bands for the implementation of systems providing mobile satellite services. Available at 2007/98/EC: Commission Decision of 14 February 2007http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32007D0098&qid=1405941209457.
2 On the selection and authorisation of systems providing mobile satellite services (MSS) - (Decision No 626/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June 2008http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32008D0626&from=PT)
3 The Commission published an announcement on the ''Call for applications for pan-European systems providing mobile satellite services (MSS)'' in the OJEU C 201 on 7.8.2008 (Administrative procedures http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:C2008/201/03&from=en).
4 Decision 2009/449/EC of the Commission, of 13.05.2009 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:149:0065:0068:EN:PDF.