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Dutch court sides with Inmarsat in dispute over use of 5G frequency

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch court on Wednesday ruled in favour of Inmarsat in a dispute over the use of 5G bandwidth in the Netherlands, ordering the government to suspend a decision to reserve the bandwidth for telecommunications as of Sept. 1, 2022.

Inmarsat currently uses the 3.5 MHz frequency for satellite communications with distressed ships. The Rotterdam District Court said in a summary of its ruling that the state had "insufficiently understood" the importance of that use and wrongly made it subordinate to economic interests.

Inmarsat said in a statement it believed a compromise would be found and the country's 5G rollout could still proceed.

“Inmarsat looks forward to working with the Dutch Government to deliver a solution that does not compromise satellite safety services,” said the company's General Counsel Brad Swann in a statement.

The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs said in a reaction that it "recognises" the importance of safety communications and would discuss the matter with Inmarsat and other involved parties, and inform parliament of the result.

The rollout of 5G in the Netherlands has lagged behind that in other European countries in part because the 3.5 MHz bandwidth was in use by both Inmarsat and Dutch military intelligence agencies from a station in Burum, Netherlands.

The government has auctioned off the use of the 3.5 MHz frequency to major telecommunications companies and parliament approved a law which set Sept. 1, 2022 as the date by which other users of the frequency would have to find alternatives.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling. Editing by Jane Merriman)