The European Commission (EC) is to propose reforms that see spectrum licences last for a minimum of 25 years, in a bid to increase investment certainty for operators.
The proposal will be part of a planned reform of the bloc’s telecoms rules, set to be published next month, and could be put into practice by 2018.
It will however have to be approved by member states and the European parliament before becoming law.
Under this specific move, licences would last 25 years, according to an EU document seen by Reuters, and the EC would have the power to set guidance on some conditions during the assignment process, including deadlines for spectrum allocation and spectrum sharing.
Reuters added member states could also jointly organise spectrum auctions, and award multi country pan-European licences, under a voluntary scheme.
The EC has lobbied for years to coordinate how national governments allocate spectrum to operators, as part of its vision for a digital single European market.
“Long term licence durations of at least 25 years proposed in this option will increase stability and certainty of investments as well as innovation requirements,” said the EU documents.
Speaking to Mobile World Live in Brussels earlier this year, Andrus Ansip, the EC’s VP for the digital single market, also opened up on the importance for European member states to cooperate more closely on spectrum, and avoid mistakes of the past.
“With 3G and in some countries with 4G, governments started to ask for bigger amounts of money (for spectrum) without setting any kind of concrete conditions,” he said. “Our market is now fragmented and we have to have deeper cooperation in the field of spectrum, especially to coordinate timing of allocation auctions and coordinate duration of those licences.”
In addition, it will also propose a peer review mechanism, to review national regulators’ draft measures on spectrum measures.
This would be used to establish “common interpretation and implementation” across the EU of where spectrum assignment “would most impact business decisions and network deployment”, added the document.
The EC further sees the establishment of a digital single market as key to driving Europe’s ambitions around 5G, with competition to pioneer the technology coming from Asia and the US in particular.