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ICO challenges EU S-band mobile satellite services decision

When ICO Global Communications learned that the European Commission did not select its subsidiary ICO Satellite Limited for S-band mobile satellite services (MSS), they were quick to object. In the works since 2008, Decision No. 626/2008/EC chose and awarded Europe’s only mobile satellite services authorizations for the next 18 years. The commission picked Solaris as the winner.

There was only one fly in the ointment: Whoever won would need a lot of pan-European S-band spectrum, and ICO-Global was already sitting on some of it, which had been registered for its ICO-P satellite system

Last September, ICO initiated legal proceedings in the European Court of First Instance seeking the annulment of Decision No. 626/2008/EC of the European Parliament. ICO’s argument is that the decision awarding Solaris is illegal and should be annulled under Articles 230 and 231 of the treaty establishing the European Community. Because ICO’s suit hadn’t been completed by the October 2008 deadline to submit applications to the EC to provide mobile satellite services, ICO filed its own application, which it should have been able to pending the outcome of the proceedings in the European Court of First Instance.

"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 Master International Frequency Register," said acting ICO chief Michael Corkery. "We believe the just-concluded EU process jeopardizes years of international cooperation and coordination that has governed satellite communications worldwide … ICO will continue assessing its options in defending its international legal rights."

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