Safe navigation

5G communication


“Maritime satellite communications and the safety of ships at sea should not be jeopardized by the roll-out of the Dutch 5G network.”

Priority KVNR: implementation of the 5G network must not cause any problems for the shipping sector.

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Niels van de Minkelis
Head of Operational Affairs

+31 6 4824 0287
+31 10 2176 282

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Press inquiries


Nathan Habers
Public Relations

+31 10 2176 264


Satellite communication is an essential aspect of safety at sea. Numerous frequency bands are used for satellite communication. The C band, for example, has a frequency range of 3.4 to 7.0 GHz and is used for, among other reasons, safety messages.

In the Netherlands, the satellite station in Burum (in the northern province of Friesland) receives signals from C-band satellites in the 3.5 GHz frequency band and directs them to onshore networks. As well as the shipping sector, this internationally important satellite receiving station is also used by the aviation industry and the Ministry of Defence.

For this reason, no ‘landlines’ or ‘mobile communications’ should be offered above the imaginary line drawn between Amsterdam and Zwolle. These cause interfere with the reception of satellite connections (satellite to earth) at the Burum station (footnote HOL008, annex 3, National Frequency Plan).

The 3.5 GHz frequency band has been designated by the European Union for the roll-out of the European 5G broadband wireless networks (Implementing Decision 2014/276 / EU). As a result, various telecom companies are demanding that the Dutch government release the 3.5 GHz frequency band for mobile communications throughout the whole country, including the areas above the Amsterdam-Zwolle line.

While the KVNR understands the importance of the 5G network, it believes that releasing the 3.5 GHz frequency band throughout the Netherlands, and without protective measures for the satellite receiving station in Burum, would put safe and effective satellite communications in danger. This is especially the case when taking the development of autonomous vessels into account; breakdown or disruption of satellite communications could lead to disasters.

2014/276/EU (Implementing Decision 3) states that “the legal framework for using the 3400-3800 MHz frequency band set by Decision 2008/411/EC should remain unchanged and thus ensure continued protection of other existing services within the band”. Article 2 mentions: “Without prejudice to the protection and continued operation of other existing use in this band”. The effective operation of the satellite receiving in Burum should therefore not be inhibited.

The challenge

In the interest of international maritime shipping, the KVNR calls on the Dutch government to make the 3.5 GHz frequency band available (for the roll-out of the 5G network) so that maritime satellite communications do not experience obstructive and unsafe interference.

Another issue to be considered is improved criteria for sharing the 3.5 GHz frequency band across multiple co-users. Furthermore, variable criteria could be applied so that those 5G base stations meeting certain requirements could be located closer to Burum. In this way, the imaginary Amsterdam-Zwolle line would be of less importance. It should also be noted that the 5G network cannot and does not have to operate exclusively in the 3.5 GHz frequency band. A 5G network and modern mobile devices can also operate just as effectively using a combination of different frequency bands.

State of play - 31 October 2019

TNO (the Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research) notes in a report commissioned by the involved ministries of Interior Affairs, Defense en Economic Affairs that the collective use of the 3.5 GHz-band in the Northern Netherlands is impossible should both national security as well as using the full capacity of the 5G-network be guaranteed.

In order to guarantee both national security as well as an optimal 5G-network, state secretary Mona Keijzer of Economic Affairs has, on behalf of the Cabinet, sent a letter on June 11, 2019 to parliament. She states that "moving this station abroad seems necessary. The viability will be further explored. All efforts are aimed at realizing a timely, before September 22nd 2022, an alternative for the satellite interception. Should this alternative not be realized on time, than it could be necessary to arrange for interim measures for a brief period. Prior to the consultation of the auction rules (...) clarity will be given about the alternative for a satellite base station in Burum."