Belgium puts Inmarsat questions to EU tribunal

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A legal battle between Viasat (of California) and Eutelsat against Inmarsat and its in-flight European Aviation Network is about to involve the European Court of Justice.

A Belgium Court of Appeal’s Market Court ruled on January 23rd that it wanted greater clarity on two specific legal questions and has asked the higher European Court of Justice (ECoJ) for their interpretation of EU law. The merits of Viasat’s case against the Belgian regulator will not be reviewed or judged upon by the ECoJ.

The dispute centres on Inmarsat’s wish to use Deutsche Telekom’s ground-based cellular repeaters, called “ground components” to boost and deliver Inmarsat’s satellite signals.  The argument is whether the European Aviation System is actually a satellite-delivered solution, or whether it is a ground-based cellular system with a satellite back-up.

This ECoJ court hearing could take some time to come up with their advice, so in the meantime, the Belgians have allowed Inmarsat’s system to be deployed.

A February 1st statement from Inmarsat said: “We note the decision by the Market Court in Brussels to seek clarification on the EU regulatory framework before taking a decision on the merits of the case.  Inmarsat is confident that this clarification will confirm the previous decision by the Belgian regulator BIPT.”


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