Solaris Mobile is in trouble

Chris Forrester

Solaris Mobile, the Eutelsat/SES Astra joint-venture to deliver DVB-H and pay-radio over Europe, has significant technical problems. The project has already made an insurance claim saying that the Harris-designed giant transmission antenna is not performing to specification.

Solaris Mobile’s S-Band payload was launched on April 3, piggybacking on Eutelsat’s W2A satellite (which is working well). But the S-Band technology has a significant anomaly, believed to be in the shape of the unfurled antenna. The end result is badly-degraded performance levels.

It is understood that Solaris Mobile’s backers are urgently considering the available options, one of which is to promptly order a replacement payload. This rather depends on the decision of the project’s insurers, and the obvious time-lag in building and modifying a future satellite. The other option – not wholly impossible – is to buy or rent surplus S-Band capacity from another satellite operator.