Viasat/Skylogic must pay damages to Starlink
April 20, 2023
By Chris Forrester
France’s administrative court (the Conseil d’Etat) has again ruled in favour of Elon Musk’s Starlink broadband system, and ordered California-based Viasat-owned Skylogic to pay damages to Starlink. The earlier victory for Starlink was back in June 2022.
Viasat bought Skylogic (then called Euro Broadband Infrastructure Sarl) as part of its acquisition of Ka-Sat back in April 2021.
The court has now thrown out an appeal by Viasat/Skylogic against the earlier verdict.
However, the amount awarded to Starlink will not break the bank. The court decided that each company must pay Starlink just €2,000 in penalties, which is not likely to meet the costs of its Starlink’s lawyers for the day.
However, the greater victory goes to Starlink, which can now legitimately sell its services and connections over France. It has been supplying its broadband-by-satellites service throughout the appeal process in a 10-year licence to operate.
The French telecommunications regulator (ARCEP) had licensed Starlink, and the case centred on whether ARCEP exceeded its authority to issue a licence.
In its April 18th decision, the Conseil d’Etat specifically rejected the argument that ARCEP had exceeded its authority. Submissions that ARCEP should have examined – and thus refused the licence – because of space debris and other environmental concerns including each Starlink’s luminosity, were also thrown out.