Inmarsat has filed a lawsuit against the Dutch government over the 3.5 GHz auction scheme

The Dutch government‘s decision to sell 3.5 GHz bandwidth that Inmarsat utilizes for maritime protection facilities has caused the British satellite provider to consider legal action. The London-based firm said it would ask a judge to rule about whether the move to auction the spectrum to terrestrial 5G networks next year is legitimate. Inmarsat, which offers satellite-based protection and distress facilities for seafarers as well as aviation travellers, will be forced to relocate a ground station in Burum, in the northern Netherlands, if telecom carriers were given direct access to the frequencies.

“Inmarsat uses around 25% of 3.5 GHz band for protection services, and our technological tests have demonstrated that we can coexist with 5G in the region,” stated an Inmarsat official. “As a result, the question is not whether Inmarsat’s protection and disturbance services or 5G should be used in the Northern Netherlands, but rather what steps should be taken to enable Inmarsat’s services as well as 5G to coexist. As a result, the Dutch government’s proposal that we relocate this portion of our activities from Burum is superfluous.”

The operator has a second ground station within this region of the world, in Fucino, Italy, however says two are required to ensure high accuracy and availability. “Every day, approximately 1.6 million citizens and 160,000 ships across the world rely on Inmarsat’s operation, and hence on the ground station situated in Burum, for their protection as well as distress communications,” the official continued.

Inmarsat announced on March 29 that it would request an injunction in a civil court in the Netherlands to investigate the Dutch government’s plan. The satellite operator confirmed that it has been working to negotiate an understanding for over 18 months. Before this article was released, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy was unavailable to respond.

In 2020, the Netherlands delivered the first batch of 5G-ready bandwidth in the 700 MHz, 1.4 GHz, as well as 2.1 GHz bands, lagging behind other European nations.  KPN, VodafoneZiggo, as well as T-Mobile, both of which are based in the Netherlands, invested a total of €1.23 billion ($1.45 billion) on the frequencies, which would help them satisfy the rising demand for mobile data.

The country’s government has stated that the 3.5 GHz frequencies would be auctioned in early 2022, allowing telecom carriers to begin using their latest spectrum licenses in September of that year. Inmarsat, on the other side, slammed this timeframe as impractical, arguing that shifting the frequencies would necessitate a lengthy transition phase. Because of its experience as an intergovernmental agency established in the 1970s, the satellite provider offers its maritime protection services to customers at no cost.

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