The European Commission has opened a formal consultation period concerning the release of digital dividend spectrum as part of a plan to develop an EU-wide roadmap for the switch from analogue to digital TV, which is scheduled to complete in 2012. In a document outlining its initial proposals, the Commission said the spectrum was “a unique opportunity for Europe to meet the growing demand for radio spectrum, particularly to allow new wireless services such as the next generation of mobile broadband.” The Commission noted that several member states had recently stepped up efforts to develop full broadband access, but said that coordination on an EU-level was required to cope with “national specificities, especially considering the different legacies and future needs with respect to terrestrial broadcasting.” A host of European countries have already committed to releasing some of the digital dividend spectrum for mobile broadband, including Germany, France, Spain, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden.

According to the Commission, appropriate European coordination would increase the potential economic impact of the digital dividend by an additional EUR20 billion to EUR50 billion between now and 2015, compared to individual national plans. In the longer term (beyond 2015), further benefits of EUR30 billion could be realised through continued EU coordination, the Commission said. It added that it would submit a decision to the Radio Spectrum Committee (RSC) on the technical harmonisation of the 790-862MHz band (the digital dividend band) for regulatory opinion in autumn 2009, with a view to final adoption by the beginning of 2010. The deadline for submitting responses to the Commission’s proposals is 4 September 2009. The full consultation document can be viewed here.