Solaris Mobile gets Ofcom boost


Astra-Eutelsat joint venture Solaris Mobile has received a boost from news that regulator Ofcom may cancel a prospective competitor's licence assignments.

ICO is a satellite mobile telephony operator which was looking for a slice of the upcoming S-band and DVB-SH action. However, on Friday it learnt that Ofcom, which looks after ICO’s transmission spectrum licences because it is the ITU’s administrator for the Cayman Islands, said it is minded to cancel ICO’s licence assignments.

The decision is a huge kick in the teeth for ICO, but a significant boost for rival Solaris Mobile, also seeking access to the same spectrum.

Ofcom’s brief statement said: “Following a review of the status of the deployment of the ICO-P mobile satellite system conducted over a three year period involving extensive consultation with ICO Global Communications (ICO), and having carefully considered the representations made by ICO, Ofcom has taken a decision that it will write to the ITU on 17 March to instruct that the ICO-P assignments currently recorded in the ITU Master Register be cancelled.”

ICO has already been approved as a candidate for the EU-gifted spectrum, and a formal announcement is expected from the EU in the next two weeks.

Solaris Mobile is already ahead of the pack in that it has a satellite going into space at the end of March (Eutelsat’s W2A). But it still needs to win EU approval for its plans. Inmarsat and TerreStar are the other two applicants.