The European Commission has proposed a procedure for member states to select companies wishing to provide services to cellphones using satellites, in what it describes as a “beauty contest, not an auction”.
- Member state authority
Technically speaking, the Commission has no competence in picking providers serving any given chunk of the radio spectrum. However, member states, who have this authority, would find it hard to co-ordinate all over Europe in order to avoid interference in this fairly narrow band using satellite transmission, which covers large areas. Commission spokesman Martin Selmayr explained: “Companies who want to offer MSS in the EU at the moment have to have a licence to do so in every EU member state.”
In its draft, the Commission tries to demonstrate why the EU should have some competence as well. Due to the technical characteristics of satellite communication, it will likely be able to demonstrate that services are best picked at the European level.
However, in order to avoid attributing more power to the EU than needed, the Commission limited itself to merely drafting the mechanism for selecting service providers. The selection will then be made by the member states. “This is a beauty contest, not an auction. If demand exceeds spectrum availability, companies will be selected according to pre-defined criteria,” Selmayr said.
- Competing uses:
Given how narrow the two bands to be allocated are, it is hard to imagine a wider range of different services making use of them without a risk of interference. Companies and organisations wanting to use the band for mobile TV and others wanting to use it for integrated satellite-terrestrial communications have therefore entered into competition over the use of the spectrum.