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Eurobites: UK Regulator Faces Legal Challenge Over In-Flight WiFi License

Paul Rainford

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Eutelsat acquires Noorsat for $75 million; Orange partners with Ciena and Akamai for vCDN; Finns go ga-ga for mobile gigabytes.

  • UK telecom regulator Ofcom is being taken to court by US satellite company ViaSat Inc. (Nasdaq: VSAT) over its issuing of a license to Inmarsat plc (London: ISAT), its British rival, to run an in-flight broadband network. As the Financial Times reports (subscription required), ViaSat alleges that Inmarsat's service is a "blatant misuse" of the original license, as Inmarsat has used the license to create a terrestrial-based European Aviation Network, when the original intent, says ViaSat, was that the spectrum would be used for satellite services. Inmarsat, of course, considers ViaCom's claims to be "entirely without merit and fundamentally misconceived." But this is not ViaSat's first move against the European Aviation Network; in recent weeks it has also advanced legal actions against Belgium and the European Commission and has filed challenges with German and Italian regulators. (See Inmarsat, DT Launch WiFi-in-the-Sky Service.)

  • In other satellite-related news, France's Eutelsat Communications S.A. has acquired Noorsat from Bahrain's Orbit Holding Group for US$75 million. Noorset is a distributor of Eutelsat capacity in the Middle East, providing services for more than 300 TV channels.

  • Orange (NYSE: FTE) has teamed up with Ciena Blue Planet and Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM) for what is described as the first ever field trial of a virtualized content delivery network (vCDN) running on the French operator's production network. At SDN NFV World Congress in The Hague this week, Orange detailed its plans for more virtualized and software-based networks in the coming months, with a rollout in Spain at the top of its hit-list. (See Orange Moves to 'Industrial' NFV Phase, Will Start in Spain.)

  • It's official: Finns are mad for mobile data. In fact, according to a new study, they consume an average of 11GB of mobile data per month, a figure which dwarfs the average 1.8GB data-take of the 35 high-income countries in the OECD. As YLE reports, citing Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the Finns' taste for data can largely be attributed to the pricing model used in the market by domestic telcos -- in Finland unlimited data is usually sold as part of mobile phone packages, not least thanks to the country's advanced telecom infrastructure.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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