Euro Parliament OKs mobile service rules

Operators will be held up to criteria

BRUSSELS -- In an effort to ensure that mobile TV develops smoothly throughout Europe, the European Parliament has agreed on new rules to license mobile satellite services.

Mobile satellite services operators will be chosen according to how they score in different criteria, including whether they cover remote regions. "Mobile satellite companies tend to focus their activities on population centers, so it was very important to insist on special weighting for rural areas," said British Liberal Democrat MEP Fiona Hall, who drafted the parliament legislation.

It obliges operators to cover at least 60% of the EU's overall land area from the time the system starts operating. After seven years, the service must be provided within all 27 EU member states, covering at least 50% of their population and 60% of each member state's land area.

Mobile satellite services allow communication between satellites and portable ground stations. They can provide high-speed data transfers for services such as two-way multimedia, satellite newsgathering and s Internet access. The global market for satellite applications is estimated at about 70 billion euros ($94.5 billion), growing at 7% per year.