Judgment of the Tribunal in relation to an appeal by Viasat UK Ltd and Viasat Inc. (together, “Viasat”) against an authorisation of Ofcom (“the Ofcom Decision”) given to the intervener Inmarsat Ventures Ltd (“Inmarsat”), dated 22 January 2018, in which Ofcom authorised the use of the 2 GHz spectrum by ground stations in connection with the operation of a satellite mobile communications network, pursuant to the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006.
The system for which Inmarsat achieved its authorisation is a service intended to provide broadband-like service to passenger in aircraft across Europe (“the European Aviation Network” or “EAN”). Viasat argued that the EAN is not a “mobile satellite system” because the satellite does not make a particularly meaningful contribution, and the system relies heavily on ground based components which was not originally anticipated.
In summary, for the reasons given in the judgment, the Tribunal upheld the Ofcom Decision. Specifically, the Tribunal dismissed Viasat’s arguments that:
The EAN is not a mobile satellite system (Section K of the judgment).
The ground based stations of the EAN are not complementary ground components (“CGCs”) within the meaning of Article2(2)(b) of the Selection Mechanism Decision (Section L of the judgment).
The EAN is non-compliant with the common conditions contained in Article 8(3) of the Selection Mechanism Decision (Section M of the judgment).
The Ofcom Decision infringed the EU law principles of transparency and equal treatment (Section N of the judgment).
The EAN is non-compliant with the common conditions contained in Article 7 of the Selection Mechanism Decision (Section O of the judgment).
Ofcom acted unlawfully in failing to ensure that it was authorising only CGCs of a mobile satellite system (Section P of the judgment).
Ofcom behaved unreasonably, irrationally and/or disproportionately in authorising CGCs in the face of common condition 7(2)(b) and the coverage commitment, which has the potential to distort competition (Section Q of the judgment).
This is an unofficial summary prepared by the Registry of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.