Coordination of 700MHz spectrum for mobile broadband across the EU, with the aim of increasing speeds and paving the way for 5G, was agreed last night.
If ratified by EU Member States in a meeting next Tuesday, authorities will have until 2020 to clear the band across the economic zone, unless they are found to have “special circumstances”. In this case they are given an extra two years to reallocate the spectrum, which is commonly used for a range of services including digital terrestrial TV and wireless microphones.
According to the EC, freeing-up the 700MHz band for wireless broadband services across the economic zone will enable the greater use of applications across borders and reduce overall interference.
In a statement, it said the agreement had been made to ease the development of innovations including connected cars, remote health care and video streaming applications and would eventually pave the way for 5G.
The policy of using the 700MHz band exclusively for mobile broadband was first raised by the EC in February, with an initial proposal presented in May. The European Council established its position during the same month, while the European Parliament set out its priorities on the issue in November.
Gunther H Oettinger, EC Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, said: “A coordinated strategy for the whole UHF band asserts our European vision. It ensures that Europeans can access innovative services and creative content on the move from their tablets and smartphones, as well as on smart TV sets at home. The coordinated release of the 700MHz band is major leap forward on the Union’s path to 5G”.
Andrus Ansip, EC Vice-President for the Digital Single Market added: “Better spectrum coordination is vital to provide higher quality internet to all Europeans.
“We made a first step today with a joint approach to use the 700MHz band in the EU. We should go further and this is one of main objectives of our new Electronic Communications Code and 5G action plan presented earlier this year. We should progress as swiftly on these initiatives which are essential to have first-class connectivity in the Digital Single Market.”
The agreement marks the first deal made between the bodies under the EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy, originally published in May 2015. During the meeting, the committees also outlined the sub-700MHz band should be prioritised for broadcast use, where needed, until 2030.