Netherlands’ 3.5GHz 5G schedule in doubt as Inmarsat court case continues

6 Jul 2021

Rotterdam District Court has suspended an amendment to the National Frequency Plan via which the State Secretary for Economic Affairs & Climate Policy intended to free up the 3.5GHz band for 5G from 1 September 2022 via a licence auction expected by April that year, due to an appeal by satellite operator Inmarsat.

In a preliminary decision, the judge noted that Inmarsat currently uses the 3.5GHz band, with a ground station located in Burum, Friesland, providing emergency/safety communications for shipping and aviation on behalf of the international community, underlining that: ‘Due to its great importance, Inmarsat is obliged to [operate the emergency communications service] with a confidence level of 99.9%. Due to the decision of the State Secretary, this will no longer be possible from 1 September 2022.’ The judge continued that, before adopting that change, the State Secretary should have mapped out how emergency/safety communications could be safeguarded, taking into account international treaties to which the Netherlands is a party.

The main case will be discussed at a hearing before the end of this year.

Netherlands, Inmarsat, Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy (MEACP)