EU Asks For Opinions About Using 700MHz Spectrum For Mobile Broadband

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EU launches consultation over plans to use 700MHz airwaves currently used for Freeview for mobile services

The European Commission (EC) is inviting academics, citizens and the mobile and broadcasting industries for their views about plans to reassign the 700MHz band for mobile broadband by 2020.

A consultation will run until April 12 and will assist the EC in devising a strategy for the spectrum, which is currently used for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) in many countries.

The EC views 700MHz as “prime real estate” in terms of use, capacity and reach and wants to unlock it across member states as part of its vision of harmonised airwaves within the EU. However such plans would be controversial given the reliance of broadcasters on the spectrum in question.

EU spectrum consultation

TV, Video © Ensuper Shutterstock 2012In the UK, Ofcom has already committed to making 700MHz available for the mobile industry, promising that there will be no need for another ‘digital switchover’ with the majority of DTT viewers only having to retune their equipment.

The EU consultation will listen to responses from stakeholders and consider proposals by former commissioner Pascal Lamy, published in September 2014, would see frequencies between 694MHz and 790MHz dedicated to mobile broadband, with the remaining spectrum below this safeguarded for broadcasters by 2030.

Later this year, the World Radiocommunications Conference (WRC-15) organised by the UN-affiliated International Telecommunications Union, will assign spectrum on a global basis, and the GSMA will be lobbying governments and regulators on behalf of the mobile industry.

The GSMA is targeting a number of bands, including spectrum located between 470MHz and 698MHz. The EU plans to ensure member states will block any proposals for these airwaves to be allocated for mobile at the conference, but will hold a review in 2025 to assess changing market and consumer trends.

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