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Socio-economic benefits of harmonisation of the S-band CGC in Europe

Philip Bates Principal, Consulting
Stéphane Piot Partner, Consulting

This white paper outlines the benefits of harmonising the S-band complementary ground component in Europe.

The S-band spectrum in question comprises 2 x 30MHz of spectrum which is valuable because it is immediately above the 2.1GHz 3G band.

The spectrum was awarded to Solaris Mobile Limited (now EchoStar Mobile Limited) and Inmarsat in 2009 to operate a pan-European mobile satellite service (MSS) in conjunction with a network of terrestrial base stations referred to as the complementary ground component (CGC).

Operation of the CGC is subject to licensing by individual member states and, six years on, some member states have not yet created a licensing regime for the CGC while others are proposing to adopt a narrow interpretation of EU rules specifying, for example, that the CGC must carry exactly the same traffic as the MSS. 

This last obligation is inefficient since the potential capacity of the CGC is far greater than the capacity of the MSS and cannot, as a practical matter, be utilised by any party other than the MSS operator due to interference considerations.

Analysys Mason estimates that if the CGC is unable to carry any traffic that is not carried by the MSS, then up to 99.9% of the potential capacity of the CGC may be lost. This would clearly be a waste of spectrum resources at a time when there is intense pressure to find additional UHF spectrum for a variety of telecommunications applications, including those which Echostar Mobile Limited and Inmarsat intend to provide.

The European Digital Single Market strategy aims to promote a more consistent and predictable approach to spectrum regulation across Europe.

This white paper argues that creating harmonised guidelines to enable the full and efficient use of the CGC spectrum in combination with the MSS would best realise the benefits of this regime while allowing the CGC to carry traffic that is not carried by the MSS would make best use of the potential additional capacity of the CGC.

This white papaer was commissioned by EchoStar Mobile Limited.

Figure: The white paper looks at potential used of the S-band spectrum including M2M and Internet of Things (IoT). Value of the global M2M market. [Source: Vodafone, 2015]

Global M2M market - Analysys Mason