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UK And 14 Other EU States ‘Oppose’ Minimum Spectrum Licences Ahead Of 5G

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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15 EU countries claim minimum 25 year licences would stifle innovation and flexible in the mobile sector

The UK is among one of 15 EU member states to have voiced opposition to proposals that would result in mobile spectrum licences being awarded for a minimum of 25 years.

The European Commission (EC) first made the proposals last year following pressure from a mobile industry that has warned it needs regulatory certainty to invest in next generation services like 5G.

Orange CEO Stephane Richard called for harmonised spectrum at Mobile World Congress (MWC).

For its part, the EU wants to harmonise service across all member states in order to push through its vision of a digital single market that would allow for cross-border services. This has also seen the abolition of roaming charges across member states.

5G - Shutterstock © glossyplastic

EU 5G spectrum

However Reuters reports that Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK have said the measures would ensure licences last longer than certain technologies, resulting in a lack of flexibility and innovation.

The final specifications are yet to be determined but its expected 5G will offer faster speeds, low latency and an impression of infinite capacity. 

EU Digital Commissioner Andrus Ansip said the EU would do everything it could to ensure incentives and favourable regulations, such as spectrum availability, would be in place. Orange has demanded that the 3.4GHz, 3.8GHz and spectrum above 6GHz should be allocated for 5G across multiple markets. It also wants longer licences of at last 25 years. 

“There’s no time to lose for … 5G,” he continued. “If Europe is to remain a credible force in this global race, our industries should move fast to trial and deploy 5G technologies. 

“When 4G came along, Europe was slow to push ahead. We don’t want to make the same mistake with 5G, that is why we have set a clear timetable to keep the EU ahead of the race. We are aiming for 5G trials in 2018 and coordinated commercial deployment of advanced 5G networks in 2020. 

“This is why we developed 5G Action Plan to promote innovation and investment in high capacity networks. The 5G plan is where Europe can make a real difference beyond goal of digitising industry. It is a European response to a European need. What Europe needs is a large home market for 5G services right from the start. 

“The alternative is to risk being left behind in fast connectivity age. Nobody in Europe, whether its countries, industries or people, can afford for this to happen.” 

Whether the UK is a member of the European Digital Single Market after 2019 is dependent on the outcome of Brexit negotiations.

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