GSMA Praises UK 4G Spectrum Innovation But Tells Europe To Do More

GSMA Director General Anne Bouverot says despite UK’s “excellent” work, Europe risks falling behind

Anne Bouverot, director general of the GSMA, has praised the UK for its innovative spectrum initiatives, but has called on the rest of Europe to do more if the continent is not to fall further behind the US and Asia in LTE.

Speaking at the Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum last month, Bouverot praised Ofcom’s liberal attitude towards spectrum trading and has called on other European governments to adopt a similar approach.

“Spectrum trading is a very sound measure and is a very fair way for the market to allocate spectrum among the existing players,” she said.

Europe falling behind

Anne Bouverot GSMA Director General

Ofcom recently announced plans to investigate the possibility of releasing the UK’s airwaves for 4G use as well as plans to host Europe’s first major trial of white space technology as the regulator ensures the country is ready to cope with the anticipated explosion in mobile demand.

However despite the “excellent” work being done by the UK, Bouverot warned that “A number of things need to work better in Europe.”

“Europe used to be the pioneer in mobile, it was at the forefront of the definition of the GSM standard, but it is lagging behind in 4G,” she continued, claiming that the number of LTE connections in Europe were far less than those in South Korea, where half of connections are 4G.

However as global 4G coverage increases, the GSMA expects there will be one billion LTE connections by 2017, but she has called on European governments to release more spectrum to operators before then.

Better spectrum

“I never lose an opportunity to speak about spectrum because it really is the lifeblood of mobile services,” she said. “Spectrum is the first thing you need and then you need to be able to invest in networks.”

While the availability of spectrum in Europe is the most pressing issue, Bouverot added that it must be the “right” spectrum that can be released on a harmonised basis to allow networks and handset manufacturers to enjoy economies of scale. She said there must be a different regulatory strategy and policy to incentivise mobile deployments, especially with regards to spectrum trading, and a more favourable approach to consolidation.

Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, has said she is committed to a single European telecoms market as part of her ‘Connected Continent’ package of proposals. These include plans to abolish roaming entirely and a more co-ordinated system of spectrum allocation that would allow for the formation of pan-European networks to operate at scale, while creating room for smaller operators to innovate.

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