Solaris Mobile and its shareholders Eutelsat and SES Astra have filed a claim for the full insured value of its S-band payload which was due to deliver mobile satellite services across Europe. Meanwhile the largest ever commercial satellite has been successfully launched for TerreStar Networks to offer similar services across America.
In April, soon after the successful launch of the European W2A satellite, which is otherwise operating well, it was revealed that there were “anomalies” with the S-band payload. Subsequent investigation has “confirmed significant non-compliance from its original specifications,” Solaris Mobile said in a statement. An insurance claim has been filed for the full value of the payload.
The joint venture company says that it should be able to provide some, but not all of the services it was planning to offer. It is still confident that it will be able to meet the commitments made to the European Union, for which it was awarded S-band spectrum to provide mobile satellite services but has given no further details. It said: “Solaris Mobile remains entirely committed to provide these services to the European market”.
Meanwhile TerreStar-1, the world’s largest commercial satellite so far, has been successfully launched aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. It will also use S-band spectrum and a combined satellite and terrestrial mobile broadband network to deliver voice, data and video to mobile devices no larger than a typical smartphone with coverage across the United States and Canada.
“The successful launch of TerreStar-1 marks the start of a new era in integrated satellite and terrestrial mobile services,” said Jeffrey Epstein, the president of TerreStar Networks.
Both Solaris Mobile and Terrestar plan to use a combination of satellite and terrestrial networks operating in the S-band, adjacent to the frequencies used for some 3G mobile phone services, to offer a new generation of mobile satellite services.
The problems associated with the Solaris Mobile service are a significant set-back to European plans. The other operator selected by the European Union is Inmarsat.