The British satellite company Inmarsat is suing for interim relief to prevent a forced relocation abroad. Inmarsat now uses the 3.5 GHz frequency band for emergency communication with ships at sea, but the Dutch government wants to use that band for faster 5G.
According to Inmarsat, the spectrum changes envisaged by the government are not necessary at all. The company’s satellite services for the safety of seafarers and 5G could work perfectly within the same spectrum band. The company has been trying to find a solution for more than 18 months, but this would not have been possible due to the inflexibility of the state.
At the ground station in Burum, Inmarsat receives approximately 160 calls from ships in distress every year. The station covers about a third of global calls. Inmarsat wants this work to remain undisturbed in Friesland and hopes to be able to discuss it with the government.
If Inmarsat is forced to relocate its activities abroad, the company stresses that the proposed timetable is unrealistic. A long transitional period would be needed to avoid jeopardising the safety of seafarers.
Providers offer 5G subscriptions for almost a year, but use the same frequencies as for 4G. in practice, the current 5G is not much faster or more stable than 4G. however, the 3.5 GHz band should allow faster and more stable mobile internet. The government is holding an auction for 5G use of that frequency band in September 2022. After that, Inmarsat will no longer be allowed to use that government frequency for satellite communications.