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Open competition will boost satellite communications sector

The Commission has adopted, at the first reading on 2 December 1993, a Directive amending the 1988 and 1990 Commission Directives concerning, respectively, telecommunications terminal equipment and telecommunications services (90/388/EEC of 28.6.1990), and which addresses the ...
The Commission has adopted, at the first reading on 2 December 1993, a Directive amending the 1988 and 1990 Commission Directives concerning, respectively, telecommunications terminal equipment and telecommunications services (90/388/EEC of 28.6.1990), and which addresses the Community's satellite communications industry.

Although the satellite communications sector is only a relatively minor part (representing up to 3%) of the overall telecommunications services sector provided by cable, optical fibre or terrestrial microwave, it is a market with high growth potential. Until now, this potential could not be fully realized due to the various regulatory restrictions of the Member States.

The amended Directive, which is expected to give a major boost to the satellite communications sector within the Community, aims to liberalize satellite communications equipment and services with the effect that private operators can offer satellite based services in all Member States in competition with the national operators. Equipment suppliers can also offer their products directly to consumers. Restrictions will be abolished on:

- The provision of all satellite earth station equipment (such as Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSAT) for business networks, mobile satellite equipment, satellite news gathering units, direct-to-home TV reception equipment);
- The provision of satellite services over satellite business networks (to permit, for instance, corporate voice services not connected to the public switched network, interactive data services from a central location to retail outlets, videotransmissions for the training of staff, transmission of the content of a daily paper to a remote printing location);
- The provision of mobile satellite services (e.g. tracking of, and communications with, road haulage fleets or fisheries fleets, the monitoring of dangerous transports, satellite links to aircraft).

The extension of the scope of the two earlier Directives to include satellite communications was one of the proposals set out in the Commission's Green Paper on a common approach in the field of satellite communications in the European Communities (COM(90) 490) of 20 November 1990, and in policy guidelines expressed in the Council Resolution of 19 December 1991 "on the development of the common market for satellite communications services and equipment".

The Directive does not apply to voice telephony for the public, permitting Member States to maintain the vocal telephony monopoly until 1998.

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