June 28th saw Inmarsat’s S-EAN (European Aviation Network) satellite launched by an Arianespace rocket. The satellite’s launch is controversial and Eutelsat, ViaSat of California and in-flight communications company Panasonic Aviation have lodged objections to the European Court of Justice and asking for an injunction to be issued to stop Inmarsat’s satellite opening for business.
The trio are alleging that Inmarsat has altered the terms upon which its licence to operate the service was originally granted back in 2009. The complainants argue that S-band was to be used to provide connectivity for rural satellite broadband and for sending signals to hand-held devices. They are also alleging that the European Commission should have prevented Inmarsat from using the satellite for in-flight WiFi and broadband connectivity to aircraft.
Rupert Pearce, Inmarsat’s CEO, speaking to The Daily Telegraph newspaper, dismissed the challenge saying his three rivals were just making mischief. “We are very confident about our licence and have issued a cease and desist order on them,” Pearce said. “We take very seriously the damage to our reputation this could cause.” He continued saying that the legal challenge was designed to slow Inmarsat down.
Pearce is on record as saying that it has permissions or ‘in principle’ approvals to launch the proposed services from 27 countries as well as the EU, plus Norway and Switzerland. The service is expected to go ‘live’ later this year.