EC Plans Use For Digital Dividend Spectrum

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when analogue TV is switched off, European states will be £40bn better off if they work together on re-using the radio spectrum, says Commissioner Reding

Unless European countries work together to coordinate approaches on how best to allocate spectrum made available by the switch-over to digital TV, the resulting broadband services may not achieve their full potential and could even be unavailable in some member states.

In a statement released this week, EU commissioner for information and society Viviane Reding said that the change from analogue TV to digital already underway in some European countries, and planned for 2012 in others, will create more spectrum which could be allocated to mobile broadband and other services.

Described by the European Commission as a “digital dividend”, the newly available spectrum can be used to transmit data over long distances and across borders. To ensure that the spectrum is used in the right way, the EC has launched a consultation between member countries to ensure effective communication over how to develop the technology.

“The digital dividend comes at a critical moment when we want to connect all parts of Europe to high-speed broadband, ensure high quality broadcasting, and expand consumer choice in future wireless services,” said Viviane Reding. “Europe will only achieve all of this if it adopts a coordinated approach using radio spectrum in the most efficient way.”

Leading up to the publication of the recent Digital Britain report, the UK government announced that it plans to use some of the left-over money allocated for its switch-over to digital TV to fund the roll-out of high-speed broadband across the UK. The government also announced a £6 levy as part of the Digital Britain report to help fund the broadband roll-out.

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Reding added that the EC is keen to hear from the public and private sectors on how best to proceed. “We want to better understand what the public, broadcasters, mobile operators and other market players think of these choices before we finalise our proposals,” she said.

As well better coordination helping to avoid some member states from taking full advantage of the new spectrum, the EC also believes that a coherent plan across Europe will help to maximise the potential financial return from the bandwidth.

“Appropriate European coordination would increase the potential economic impact of the digital dividend by an additional €20 to €50 billion (£43bn) between now and 2015,” the EC said in a statement. “In the long run an additional benefit of € 30 billion could be realised beyond 2015 through further EU coordination.”

The EC consultation will run till 4 September as the commission believes that its vital to get the Europe-wide agreement on the new spectrum as soon as possible.