US-based satellite company ViaSat is planning to take legal action against UK telecoms regulator Ofcom over plans by its British rival Inmarsat to operate an in-flight broadband network, the Financial Times reports. It is understood that ViaSat will launch legal proceedings ‘imminently’ after Ofcom announced earlier this week that Inmarsat would be allowed to use the licence it was granted back in 2009 for satellite-based mobile phone services, to instead operate ground-based stations for the purpose of delivering in-flight broadband connectivity. ViaSat has argued that such a development represents an abuse of the conditions of the original licence issued to Inmarsat, and has criticised Ofcom, telling the regulator that what it views as a ‘blatant misuse of spectrum must stop now’.
The threat of legal proceedings is said to be supported by Eutelsat, ViaSat’s European partner, while the report also notes that ViaSat has already mounted a challenge with the European Court of Justice and against the Belgian regulator, while filing objections with the German and Italian telecoms regulators over the issue. Commenting on the matter, Rick Baldridge, ViaSat’s president and chief operating officer, was cited as saying: ‘The environment we play in globally is one with rules. We are investing billions of dollars and to have people avert those rules is inappropriate. Are there rules or are there no rules? Can we use our Ka band licence for 5G? The telco guys would say no and rightly so.’