Inmarsat network operations center
Inmarsat controls its satellite constellation from a network operations center in London. Credit: Inmarsat

TAMPA, Fla. — Inmarsat is pivoting to an administrative court in its battle to stop the Netherlands from auctioning 3.5 GHz spectrum, which the British satellite operator says it does not want to cede to bandwidth-hungry 5G networks.

Inmarsat had sought an injunction in a civil court to stop the Dutch government’s plan to sell the frequencies, which it uses for maritime safety services, to terrestrial 5G providers next year. 

A hearing was scheduled May 11 at The Hague District Court, but was canceled after the Dutch government published its National Frequency Plan (NFP) April 30.

“The publication of the National Frequency Plan does not change Inmarsat’s position and we will continue to oppose the amendments to the NFP by the Dutch Government, which are unnecessary and put lives at risk,” an Inmarsat official said in an emailed statement.

There is not yet a date for the administrative court hearing in Rotterdam.

The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate Policy was unable to comment before this article was published.

The government is keen to release more 5G-suitable spectrum as other European countries are ahead in next-generation network deployments.

Inmarsat will have to move a ground station in Burum, in the northern part of the Netherlands, if the country gives wireless operators full use of the frequencies.

“Inmarsat is committed to the Netherlands and to continuing to provide essential, free of charge maritime safety services from Burum,” the company official added.

“Contrary to the mistaken belief of the Dutch Government, these services can continue without affecting future 5G telecoms services in the northern Netherlands. We will continue to defend safety of life at sea services against the unnecessary position of the State.”

The Dutch government has said wireless operators will be able to use 3.5 GHz spectrum for 5G in September 2022 if it auctions it early next year. 

Inmarsat says it would take longer to transfer the frequencies.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...