|Products||Mobile Satellite Services|
Solaris Mobile was set up in 2008 as a joint venture company between SES and Eutelsat Communications to develop and commercialize the first geostationary satellite systems in Europe for broadcasting video, radio and data to in-vehicle receivers and to mobile devices, such as mobile phones, portable media players and PDAs. In January 2014 all stock in Solaris Mobile was acquired by EchoStar Corporation.
The services to be developed include video, radio, multimedia data, interactive services, and voice communications. The primary aim is the delivery of mobile television any time, anywhere, and SES and Eutelsat – both successful European satellite operators, providing TV and other services from geostationary satellites to millions of cable and direct-to-home viewers – have so far invested €130m in the venture.
Solaris Mobile's first commercial contract is with Italian media publishing group Class Editori, to launch a digital radio service in Italy. A hybrid satellite/terrestrial network will initially be deployed in Milan, in October 2011 and extended across the country in 2012. Solaris claims that the network will enable Italians to access dozens of new digital radio channels broadcasting music, news, entertainment and sports, in their original format with continuity of reception across the entire country, and that the digital audio signal will be complemented with new visual media services such as programme information and traffic data.
The EU Telecoms Commissioner, Viviane Reding, has commented, "Mobile satellite services have huge potential: they can enable Europeans to access new communication services, particularly in rural and less populated regions."
Solaris Mobile primarily intends to provide mobile TV and interactive services to handheld and vehicle receivers. For in-vehicle use, the mobile satellite receivers could also double as web browsers providing full Internet access, and deliver interactive services such as online reservations, emergency warnings, or toll payments.
Solaris claims the technology brings a "fully-fledged TV experience"  to mobile television, unavailable with purely terrestrial systems, delivering high-quality live TV, viable at high vehicle speeds, dozens of TV channels per country, and universal coverage.
The coverage across Europe will also enable the system to be used for situations when other means of communication are not possible, such as gathering data (traffic, weather, pollution) from moving vehicles, and support for emergency and rescue services in isolated regions, under extreme conditions or when terrestrial networks have been compromised.
To avoid the requirement for mobile phones with S-band reception for the satellite services, Solaris Mobile has developed a 'Pocket Gateway' in conjunction with Finnish company Elekrobit. The Gateway is a compact S-band receiver which decodes DVB-SH transmissions from the Solaris satellite and relays them over WiFi to any compatible handset with a web browser. The Gateway is also planned to be used in vehicles with a roof-mounted antenna for S-band reception with services accessed on passengers' mobile phones. The technology was demonstrated at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February 2010.
The Solaris Mobile services use DVB-SH technology to deliver IP based data and media content to handheld and in-vehicle terminals using a hybrid satellite/terrestrial system with satellite transmission serving the whole of Europe and beyond, and terrestrial repeaters for urban and indoor penetration.
The S-band frequencies used (2.00 GHz) are reserved for the exclusive use of satellite and terrestrial mobile services, and sit alongside the UMTS frequencies already in use across Europe for 3G terrestrial mobile phone services, allowing the reuse of existing cellular towers and antennas, and the simple incorporation of Solaris services in mobile handsets.
Handsets equipped with the first DVB-SH chipsets were successfully demonstrated live at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February 2008.
Solaris was intended to first use the Eutelsat W2A satellite at 10° east, which contains an S-band payload, and was scheduled for launch in early 2009. However, following the successful launch on April 3, 2009, the S-band payload was found to show "an anomaly" which has put in doubt the payload's capability to provide mobile satellite services for Solaris.
Further testing of the satellite was undertaken to establish its future in the Solaris programme. Investigation of S-band payload has confirmed significant non-compliance from its original specifications. On 1 July 2009, Solaris Mobile filed an insurance claim. The technical findings indicate that the company should be able to offer some, but not all of the services it was planning to offer.
On June 30, 2008 the European Parliament and the Council adopted the European’s Decision to establish a single selection and authorisation process to ensure a coordinated introduction of mobile satellite services (MSS) in Europe. The selection process was launched in August 2008 and attracted four applications by prospective operators (ICO, Inmarsat, Solaris Mobile, TerreStar).
In May 2009, the European Commission selected two operators, Inmarsat Ventures and Solaris Mobile, giving these operators "the right to use the specific radio frequencies identified in the Commission's decision and the right to operate their respective mobile satellite systems". EU Member States now have to ensure that the two operators have the right to use the specific radio frequencies identified in the Commission's decision and the right to operate their respective mobile satellite systems for 18 years from the selection decision. The operators are compelled to start operations within 24 months from the selection decision.
Although the EU’s decision was announced days after the apparent failure of the payload intended to serve Solaris, the company remains confident of "its ability to meet the commitments made under the European Commission selection process".
In May 2010, Solaris Mobile announced that following the granting of spectrum by the European Commission, the company had been actively pursuing licenses from European member states and it had just been granted 18-year licences to operate Mobile Satellite Services in France, Sweden and Germany, to add to existing licenses for Finland, Luxembourg, Italy, and Slovenia.
- "Steve Maine Appointed By SES ASTRA And EUTELSAT As CEO Of Joint Venture For Mobile Satellite Services" (Press release). SES ASTRA. February 21, 2008. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- "Echostar Acquires European Mobile Satellite Services Provider" (Press release). Solaris Mobile. January 6, 2014. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
- "SOLARIS MOBILE AND CLASS EDITORI SIGN AGREEMENT TO LAUNCH DIGITAL RADIO SERVICE IN ITALY" (Press release). Solaris Mobile. July 12, 2011.
- "European Commission paves the way for European mobile satellite services" (Press release). European Commission. May 14, 2009.
- Broadcasting in motion. Solaris Mobile website. Retrieved on June 1, 2009
- "Pocket Gateway Device" (Press release). Solaris Mobile. February 10, 2010.
- Major Players of the DVB-SH Ecosystem Join Forces to Demonstrate Live Mobile TV. Reuters (February 6, 2008). Retrieved on June 1, 2009
- "Statement re Solaris Mobile S-band capacity" (Press release). Solaris Mobile. May 14, 2009. SES Statement on Solaris Mobile S-band capacity
- "Solaris Mobile Files Insurance Claim" (Press release). Solaris Mobile. July 1, 2009. SES statement: Solaris Mobile Files Insurance Claim
- "Commission boost for mobile satellite services paves the way for EU-wide high speed data communications" (Press release). European Commission. August 22, 2007.
- "New Satellites for Europe: Commission starts selection procedure for operators of pan-European mobile satellite services" (Press release). European Commission. August 7, 2008.
- "Mobile Satellite Services in Europe: Frequently Asked Questions" (Press release). European Commission. May 14, 2009.
- Inmarsat and Solaris win EU spectrum rights Reuters (May 14, 2009). Retrieved July 27, 2009
- Pan-European numbers and services. European Commission Information Society website. Retrieved July 27, 2009
- "Solaris Mobile welcomes the European Commission selection decision for the S-band process" (Press release). Solaris Mobile. May 14, 2009.
- "European License Progress" (Press release). Solaris Mobile. May 11, 2010.