Implementing a European Union (EU) directive that went into effect last month, the European Commission (EC) last week launched a streamlined process for awarding mobile satellite service (MSS) licenses on a pan-European scale instead of on a national level as was done in the past. The new licensing regime is intended to free MSS operators from the cumbersome task of seeking operational authority from each of the EU’s 27 member states and of having to navigate a maze of regulatory requirements that is unique to each state. EC officials also hope that the simplified procedure will reduce carriers’ costs of seeking regulatory approval and will speed the introduction of new services that include broadband Internet access in rural and unserved areas. The EC will evaluate prospective MSS licensees in two stages, with candidates to be selected in the first round according to commercial and technical expertise. During the second round, prospects will be assessed according to proposed geographic coverage, consumer and competitive benefits, spectrum efficiency, and public policy objectives. The proposed geographic footprint of each bidder must cover at least 60% of the EU territory, and winning bidders must offer commercial service within all EU member states within seven years. Interested parties must submit their applications by October 7, with winners to be announced by mid-2009. The EC also anticipates that the first MSS satellites will be launched and services will commence by 2010. Observing, “there is now one market, not 27, in Europe for [MSS],” EC Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding proclaimed: “the ball is now in the camp of the industry.”