The European Union (EU) yesterday agreed to free-up spectrum in the 900MHz frequency band for 3G mobile use, reports Dow Jones Newswires. The approval by the EU member states follows earlier backing by the European Parliament, and paves the way for the new policy to come into force in October, the Commission said. To date, the 900MHz band in Europe has been restricted to GSM services, but the Commission said yesterday that other technologies can now be used as long as they do not encroach on existing second-generation (GSM) services. “This reform will remove constraints on operators so that they can deploy new technologies in the GSM bands to develop high-speed mobile broadband services,” said EU telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding.

The Commission added that the move could lead to savings of as much as EUR1.6 billion in infrastructure costs. The 900MHz band is deemed particularly suitable for expanding mobile broadband into less populated areas as it offers improved radio-wave signal strengths at lower frequencies, providing greater reach than 2100MHz, the traditional 3G frequency band. Several mobile operators in Europe are already deploying mobile broadband in 900MHz. In Finland, for example, Elisa became the world’s first operator to launch a commercial 3G (WCDMA) 900MHz network in November 2007. Local rivals Sonera and DNA have since announced similar strategies.