Inmarsat Ventures and Solaris Mobile Ltd. won rights this week from the European Commission (EC) to be the first providers of pan- European mobile satellite network services that will utilize 2 GHz frequencies in the S-band. The EC’s announcement caps a selection process that commenced last August and through which EC officials evaluated technical and commercial proposals submitted by four prospective operators. That process also constitutes the first instance in which the EC has awarded a band of spectrum on a pan- European basis instead of requiring a provider to seek rights to spectrum on a country-by-country basis. Yesterday, the EC confirmed the selection of Inmarsat and Solaris—a joint venture pairing Eutelsat of France with Luxembourg’s SES Astra—over U.S. satellite firms TerresStar and ICO Satellite Ltd. Within the next 24 months, Inmarsat and Solaris are expected to deploy a variety of mobile voice, Internet and broadband services under the licenses, which will run for 18 years. Given the proximity of the companies’ authorized S-band frequencies to existing 3G wireless allotments, Inmarsat and Solaris are also expected to provide network capacity to terrestrial wireless operators that hope to expand their service or to enter the European mobile telephony market quickly. Both companies will also be bound by commitments made to the EC during the selection process that encompass geographic coverage as well as consumer and competitive benefits. Declaring, “we have now cleared the way for the swift launch of these pan-European services,” EC Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding called upon EU member states “to take without delay all the required follow-up steps in order to allow a timely and proper launch.”