The EC presented a proposal to coordinate the use of 700MHz spectrum for mobile services, in a move it said would “improve internet access for all Europeans and help develop cross-border applications”.
The body said that spectrum needs to be better coordinated at the European level “to avoid interferences and to allow innovative services, such as connected cars or remote health care, to work across the continent”.
Andrus Ansip, VP for the Digital Single Market, said: “28 different approaches to manage radio frequencies in the EU do not make economic sense in the Digital Single Market.”
The 700MHz frequencies, which are already used for mobile broadband in some APAC and America markets, were harmonised for mobile internet services globally at the ITU’s World Radiocommunications Conference 2015.
At the same time, frequencies below the 700MHz band were allocated to television services, which the EC now said will “make sure that Europeans can have access to creative content on tablets and smartphones – an increasing trend – but also through classic TV services”.
The proposal contains “two major elements”: a common schedule for making 700MHz available for wireless broadband use under harmonised technical conditions, and related coordination measures; and a “long-term priority for the distribution of audiovisual media services” in the sub-700MHz bands, with a “flexible approach for spectrum use to cater for different levels of digital terrestrial television uptake in member states”.
The Commission is proposing that the 700MHz band should be assigned to wireless broadband by 30 June 2020 at the latest in all EU countries. To meet this deadline, member states will need to adopt and make public their national plans for network coverage and for releasing this band by 30 June 2017.
Two states (France and Germany) have already authorised the use of the 700MHz band for mobile services, while Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the UK have outlined plans to repurpose the band in the next few years.
The proposal will have to be examined by the European Parliament and Member States, under a co-decision procedure. After taking their positions, negotiations will begin, which “may take between a few months and one year”.