Inmarsat’s ground station to be relocated from the Netherlands

The Netherlands intends to market the C-band spectrum the facility employs for maritime safety operations to 5G wireless providers; therefore, Inmarsat is requesting permission from Greece to relocate a ground station there. This British satellite operator earlier said that leaving Burum, a tiny town in the northern Netherlands, was unnecessary since its services may potentially share spectrum with 5G carriers.

However, on May 13, the business announced that it is engaging with Greek authorities to acquire a license based on proposals from an external committee created by the Dutch authorities to investigate ways to sell the operator’s 3.5 GHz frequencies without compromising safety services.

Last year, Inmarsat sued the Dutch government over a decision to sell the 3.5 GHz spectrum, which is used in part for emergency services, to 5G operators starting in September 2022. In June, a Dutch administrative court ordered the government and Inmarsat to find a way to provide frequencies for 5G without interfering with safety services.

As per the external advisory group, Inmarsat should relocate from Burum, however, a portion of the operator’s 3.5 GHz spectrum should not be made available to wireless carriers until the operator creates a ground station elsewhere. Their report, delivered to the government on 12th May, recommended that the ground station be relocated to Greece and that the 3.5 GHz frequencies be auctioned off so that mobile operators can use them by December 2023.

If Inmarsat does not relocate its ground station before then, the report recommends that it be allowed to continue running the site but with a narrower 80 MHz frequency swath. The band 126 MHz is now used by Inmarsat’s maritime-safety ground station at Burum. According to Inmarsat spokesperson Matthew Knowles, the frequencies are utilized for a mix of safety and commercial services that can’t be separated.

In an emailed statement, Jason Smith, the Inmarsat chief operating officer, stated, “Throughout this process, Inmarsat has worked to maintain these important safety capabilities, on which millions of individuals rely every day, while also presenting a viable way forward to allow 5G mobile telecommunications throughout the Netherlands to commence shortly.”

“Inmarsat will continue to function in the present spectrum from Burum before relocating operations — but not personnel — to a new facility outside the Netherlands when a license is confirmed elsewhere,” Smith added. Inmarsat is in talks with the Greek government about obtaining a license to be able to operate there.”

The London-based corporation has yet another ground station in this area of the globe in Fucino, central Italy, but it claims it needs two in this European area for redundancy since its safety services need great dependability and performance.

Inmarsat, which is being sold to Viasat, a U.S.-based satellite operator, for $7.3 billion, delivers marine safety capabilities to consumers free of charge through services derived from its 1970s past as an intergovernmental agency. The Netherlands, Japan, India, Italy, Russia, China, Norway, France, and Vietnam are among the nine nations where the operator operates ground stations providing safety services worldwide.

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