European satellite licence planned: Proposal would mean less red tape for business telecoms networks

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The Independent Online
THE EUROPEAN Commission is proposing a Europe-wide licence for satellite telecommunication services to save users having to repeat applications in each European Union state.

The initiative, which will need ministerial approval to become law, will save business networks used for data-communications and video- conferencing a huge amount of red tape. A large operator with, say, 5,000 satellite dishes across Europe, must file about 5,000 licence applications at present.

The proposed directive applies to the technical means of broadcasting, not the content, which is covered by other legislation.

The idea is to create a system enabling all regulatory authorities to recognise the same licence.

Satellite communication is increasingly used by many industries.

Road haulage companies can determine the exact position of their lorries and provide up-to-the- minute information wherever they are. The systems are also used for the monitoring of dangerous cargo shipments.

An EC directive would encourage connections between the petrol stations and credit card verification facilities and by hotel chains for rationalising their purchasing requirements, the Commission said.

News teams working on breaking stories would in future find their workload eased if satellite news gathering units could be pre-licensed and set up wherever required.

Other business activities - for example, the distribution of corporate videos across frontiers, and the networks car industries use to connect their headquarters to retail outlets - would also benefit from a streamlining of the licensing arrangements.

The proposals are part of a wide- ranging liberalisation of European satellite services that envisages the introduction of competition in services and equipment supply by the end of the year.

The European Monetary Institute, Europe's embryonic central bank, holds its first meeting in Frankfurt today, a gathering heavy with symbolism rather than substance.

Both London and Frankfurt fought hard for the honour of the bank that Germany won. But permanent accommodation is not yet ready and for the first six months meetings will probably be held in Basle, Switzerland - home to the Bank of International Settlements.