7 December 2018: The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in London today handed down its judgment dealing with ViaSat’s challenge to Ofcom’s January 2018 authorisation of Inmarsat’s UK complementary ground component (CGC) forming part of Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network (EAN).
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.
The CGC authorisation granted by Ofcom to Inmarsat for the EAN system remains in full force and effect.
Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat: “We welcome today’s decision and look forward to the European Aviation Network delivering a world-class WiFi experience to airline passengers in the UK and throughout Europe.
“Today’s judgement clearly highlights the diligent work undertaken by Ofcom in the process by which they awarded the CGC authorisation to Inmarsat.
“EAN represents an outstanding technological innovation, which has taken years of hard work and commitment to deliver and I am delighted to say it will very shortly be available to passengers across Europe.”
The EAN is an unprecedented pan-European project aimed at making a wide variety of broadband services available to passengers flying over Europe.
Inmarsat was awarded the S-Band frequencies enabling the roll-out of the EAN system through the first (and so far the only) pan-European spectrum award procedure. That procedure was managed by the European Commission through an open and transparent selection mechanism. Inmarsat competed with other bidders and was ultimately selected as one of the two winners.
Inmarsat has spent hundreds of millions of pounds as well as significant human capital and years of hard work to deploy the EAN state-of-the-art integrated platform. The EAN system is made of two components, namely a satellite (which was launched in July 2017) and a network of about 300 ground towers deployed across the European continent.
In order to operate the EAN, Inmarsat needs certain national authorisations, including in particular CGC authorisations. Ofcom granted the UK CGC authorization to Inmarsat in 2018 and ViaSat challenged that authorization before the CAT.
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