Viasat responds to judgement decision on EAN

Viasat logoViasat has responded to Inmarsat’s news that the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has issued a judgment dealing with Viasat’s challenge to Ofcom’s January 2018 authorisation of Inmarsat’s UK complementary ground component (CGC) forming part of the European Aviation Network (EAN).

Inmarsat says the tribunal comprehensively found in favour of Ofcom and Inmarsat and determined that all of ViaSat’s arguments failed. On that basis, the Tribunal dismissed Viasat’s case.

Viasat has issued a response, which is listed below:

“We are disappointed by the Court’s initial ruling upholding Ofcom’s decision to license the European Aviation Network (EAN) in the UK.

“The Court agreed with Viasat on all of the core facts: Inmarsat’s contemplated EAN service will be delivered almost exclusively through a terrestrial air-to-ground network, and not a satellite-based network. We believe the Court went astray where it concluded that such a system somehow complies with the original Mobile Satellite System (MSS) Decision of the EU Legislature, which envisioned that a mobile satellite system would, as its name implies, use a satellite as the primary means of transmission, with terrestrial components serving a much more limited role of supplementing the satellite availability where needed.

“We will take all necessary steps to appeal this decision. The Court’s interpretation of the law, and in particular its conclusion that a mobile satellite system can rely on ‘complementary ground components’ to provide over 99% of the service’s bandwidth, is wrong and runs directly contrary to both the law’s intent and plain meaning.

“The ruling is also troubling in other respects. Most notably, the panel expressly refused to take a position on some of Viasat’s other legal arguments that cut to the heart of the EAN’s illegality, despite the fact that the Court indicated in its judgment that at least some of its members found these arguments compelling. Instead, the Court deferred the consideration of these key legal issues to other EU courts or to later enforcement proceedings in the UK.

“If allowed to stand, this ruling will encourage other companies to use spectrum granted for very specific purposes in ways never contemplated by either regulators or other market participants.

“We remain confident the EAN does not meet the initial license parameters and is therefore, in our opinion, illegal. So we will not be deterred by the UK Court’s judgment, and will continue to press our case in the UK and throughout Europe.”

Colin Ward, Head of Litigation at Viasat

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