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N° 43–1996: New mobile satellite communications system becomes available in Europe

4 November 1996

The European Space Agency's EMS (European Mobile Services) payload has become operational following the official commissioning of the telecommunications satellite Italsat F2 (*) on 31 October at Nuova Telespazio in Rome. EMS is on board this Italian satellite and will now be used for operational voice and data communication links between mobile terminals and fixed Earth stations over western and eastern Europe, North Africa and Turkey.


The EMS payload consists of two wide European-coverage transponders, one for the forward link, from fixed Earth stations to mobile terminals, and one for the return link.
Applications include public telephony, fax and data communications and high-priority private mobile radio networks used by civil security, fire brigades, police, health services etc. ESA has leased most of the EMS capacity to Nuova Telespazio (IRI-STET Group) of Rome, Italy. The company will operate both as a wholesaler of that capacity to third- party service providers and as a service provider in it is own right.

ESA retains a limited part of the EMS capacity to continue experimentation with novel mobile communication equipment and services stemming from existing developments such as PRODAT and MSBN. PRODAT was conceived as a low data-rate messaging system using compact, low-cost mobile terminal equipment. MSBN is a real-time voice and data communication system with the emphasis on decentralised, low-capacity applications now at the prototype stage.

(*) Italsat F2 , built by Alenia Spazio for Telecom Italia under the auspices of ASI (the Italian space agency), was launched on 8 August by an Ariane 4 launcher. The initial control of the satellite, from launch to final positioning in geostationary orbit, was handled by the ESA/ESOC control centre on behalf of ASI, until 9 September, when control was handed over to ASI for operation by Nuova Telespazio's control centre at Fucino, in central Italy.