Feeds

Ofcom to finally yank sat broadband biz off the air

ITU asked to revoke ICO's frequency rights

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Ofcom has written to the International Telecommunications Union asking it to rescind the spectrum allocation to ICO Satellite after the company's 32-month campaign failed.

ICO had appealed against the courts' refusal to grant a judicial review of Ofcom's original decision to write the letter, which the regulator wanted to send in February 2009 having decided ICO wasn't making sufficient use of the 2GHz spectrum it had been allocated. ICO fought that decision every step of the way, but is now out of options and the request to the ITU is in the post.

Assuming the ITU agrees to remove the allocation then the next applicant in line will get access, though who that will be we don't know as the ITU will have to consider who could make best use of the band - which is reserved internationally for satellite communications.

Ofcom originally requested the band on behalf of ICO, which wanted some frequencies in which to run its ICO-P satellite-broadband service. ICO did manage to get one bird in the air before it ran out of cash and entered into an ongoing dispute with Boeing over the remaining birds. That dispute has left the company's satellites grounded and largely unfinished while litigation continues.

Around 2006 Ofcom started talking to ICO about its options for using the spectrum, and by 2009 it was clear that ICO was going to have a hard time getting any more satellites flying so Ofcom decided to complete the paperwork to release the spectrum.

That would leave ICO, which has spent more than £2bn on the project, with no frequencies in which to operate in Europe (the company also has a US operation, which was bought up by Dish Networks earlier this year), but that argument fell on deaf ears at the appeal as financial loss isn't Ofcom's problem.

The judges in the case also rejected ICO's suggestion that as there was no one waiting to use the spectrum there was no reason to de-allocate it. The problem with that argument is that around the world there are lots of companies hoping for satellite spectrum, many of whom won't break cover until there is a band available.

ICO's only remaining argument - that it wasn't their fault and Boeing was to blame - was also considered irreverent, despite being sad.

The end of the appeal means the letter can be sent, and that has now happened. It's possible the ITU could decide not to delist the spectrum, but this is really unlikely, which is probably why in June ICO renamed itself Pendrell and acquired Ovidian - "a leading partner in providing corporate IP and litigation", with a view to "establish a new ‘gold standard’ in IP for the world’s leading technology companies". ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
EE plonks 4G in UK Prime Minister's backyard
OK, his constituency. Brace yourself for EXTRA #selfies
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.