Tag Archives: EC

Row over French DTT platform’s transition to DVB-T2

A row has broken out in France over the pace at which its DTT platform should migrate to DVB-T2 – the second-generation version of the DVB-T transmission standard.

Earlier this week, Catherine Morin-Desailly, the French senator who heads up the Senate’s media and new technologies working group, put out a press release questioning the imposition of the more efficient standard on new DTT channels. “Migrating to DVB-T2 is premature,” she said. “There’s no reason to make French consumers change their equipment again just to access a few extra channels.”

The channels in question are the so-called ‘bonus’ channels due to be awarded to incumbent terrestrial broadcasters on December 1st this year, the day after analogue terrestrial television is finally switched off in France. The European Commission (EC) has suggested the awards contravene European legislation.

Last month, the French newspaper La Tribune leaked the contents of a confidential notification by the French government to the EC of a projected change in French legislation aimed at imposing DVB-T2 on new terrestrial channels. The newspaper interpreted the move as a ruse designed to delay the launch of the controversial bonus channels, since no DVB-T2 receivers would be available to receive them.

ICO reiterates opposition to EC S-Band allocation award, continues to ‘assess its options’

Not that it adds that much to the story, but – following the award of the European S-Band frequencies to Solaris Mobile/Inmarsat – ICO, which was passed over, has reiterated its opposition to the whole allocation process – officially known as Decision No. 626/2008/EC.

In a statement released last week, ICO said it was “challenging this process, having initiated legal proceedings in September 2008 in the European Court of First Instance seeking the annulment of Decision No. 626/2008/EC of the European Parliament.”

ICO argues that the Decision – essentially the one that gave rise to the European beauty contest – is illegal and should be annulled “pursuant to Articles 230 and 231 of the Treaty establishing the European Community”. ICO noted that as these legal proceedings had not been completed by the October 2008 deadline to submit applications to the EC to provide mobile satellite services in the S-Band above Europe, it decided to go ahead and file an application anyway, ‘without prejudice.’

Michael Corkery, acting chief executive officer of ICO, is quoted in the statement as saying: “ICO has spent years clearing the S-band worldwide, has an operational satellite using this frequency band and is registered in the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Master International Frequency Register (MIFR). We believe the just-concluded EU process jeopardizes years of international cooperation and coordination that has governed satellite communications worldwide.” Corkery concluded that “ICO will continue assessing its options in defending its international legal rights.”

This doesn’t give any clue as to whether ICO will be asking for a judicial review of Ofcom’s proposal to recommend that the ITU allocations referred to above be rescinded, but it’s only got until the end of this week.

Solaris Mobile S-Band mobile satellite services threatened by ‘anomaly’ on Eutelsat W2A bird

There’s never a dull moment in the continuing European S-Band saga!

Solaris Mobile – the Astra/Eutelsat JV hotly tipped to share the S-Band frequencies with Inmarsat (when the EC finally makes up its mind) – released a statement this morning saying that the W2A satellite carrying the S-Band payload, which was successfully launched on April 3 – has some sort of problem.

Here’s the full text:

“Solaris Mobile and its shareholders Eutelsat Communications and SES Astra announce that the current evaluation of the in-orbit tests of the S-band payload on the W2A satellite launched on April 3 indicate an anomaly which requires further tests. Additional analysis is consequently planned with the satellite’s prime contractor, Thales Alenia Space, in order to identify the cause of the anomaly and to fully assess the extent of the S-band payload’s capability to provide mobile satellite services to the European marketplace. Solaris Mobile remains confident of its ability to meet the commitments made according to the European Selection and Authorisation Process, under which it has applied for S-band spectrum to provide these services. The company is evaluating a range of options to compensate for this situation and expects to make further announcements in due course.”

Regardless of whether the anomaly turns out to be trivial or not, it comes at a sensitive time: as mentioned above, the ‘European Selection and Authorisation Process’ for allocating the S-Band frequencies, which Solaris Mobile wants to use for DVB-SH mobile broadcasting, has yet to formally announce the result of its deliberations.

With one of the other candidates, ICO, pursuing legal action in the European Court of First Instance over the whole procedure at the same time, there’s every prospect of a significant further delay, at least. At worst, Solaris Mobile might get passed over, with the frequencies being awarded to someone else (e.g. Inmarsat plus ICO).

The critical date is May 23rd – the date by which ICO has to decide whether to ask for a judicial review of a previous decision by Ofcom to deprive it of its existing ITU S-Band frequencies or not. This in turn will trigger Ofcom’s decision on whether to go ahead and ask the ITU to relieve ICO of its previous S-Band frequency allocati0ns.

Connected TV will keep you posted…..

**Update**Reuters has just released a story that the EC has today awarded the S-Band frequencies to Solaris Mobile and Inmarsat regardless of the above-mentioned glitch. Possibly the EU announcement was therefore already in the system before the W2A anomaly was known about. So the scene is now set for a possible challenge from ICO….