EchoStar firming up Solaris plans

Back in January Denver based EchoStar bought struggling Solaris Mobile from its SES and Eutelsat joint owners. Solaris Mobile was planned to deliver S-band programming and content to handheld devices. Part of the reason why SES and Eutelsat were happy to see Solaris sold was because it had a defective antenna, and the project’s insurers had compensated the satellite operators.

Now EchoStar has unveiled its plans for a new service from the satellite. EchoStar CEO Michael Dugan said the company is “beginning discussions with potential customers. In the near term, our primary focus is on meeting with the European Union and member states to more clearly define and harmonize the regulations requiring the operations of a terrestrially delivered service.”

Dugan added that a new satellite, EchoStar-21, would be launched in early 2016 and services were planned to commence later that year. EchoStar-21 is a new name for the planned TerreStar-2, which EchoStar bought out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011. EchoStar-21/TerreStar-2 comes with significant transmission rights, as does other assets also acquired as part of that bankruptcy. TerreStar-1, for example, was launched in 2009 and remains the largest commercial satellite ever launched at that time (weighing 6910 kgs) according to builder Space Systems/Loral.

What EchoStar – and its founder Charlie Ergen – now have is a US/European S-band system, which is authorised to supply mobile voice, data and messaging over North America – and now Europe.

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