EC proposes 700 MHz refarm for wireless broadband within 6 years

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The European Commission would turn radio spectrum in the 700 MHz frequency band over to wireless broadband providers within six years under new Digital Agenda proposals published Sep.1.

Neelie Kroes - EC vice president

A new report submitted to Digital Agenda vice president Neelie Kroes recommends refarming ultra-high frequencies (UHF) in the range of 694 MHz to 790 MHz, which are currently used by terrestrial broadcasting companies and wireless microphones, by 2020, plus or minus two years. The plan would also ensure broadcasters can continue using spectrum below 700 MHz until 2030, to ensure a stable playing field.

Kroes said the report, which was drafted by former EC Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, "lays down a path for creating capacity for fast wireless broadband everywhere" and ensures "sustainable co-existence" between the broadcast and telecoms industries as "both sectors focus increasingly on advanced media services."

Lamy's report--drafted following six months of discussion with senior executives from network operators, broadcasters, mobile companies, and technology associations--states that growing demand for spectrum throughout Europe can only be met by more efficient use of current frequencies.

It also highlighted that Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Malta and Poland have yet to allocate 800 MHz spectrum for mobile broadband services, missing a Jan 1. 2013 deadline in the process.

The report was handed to Kroes as UK-headquartered operator Vodafone prepares to challenge planned EC rules on net neutrality.

CEO Vittorio Colao is due to address the subject during a roundtable meeting at a technology conference in Spain, Bloomberg reported. The carrier believes rules preventing it from prioritising web traffic will prove too restrictive to implement and will ultimately affect the availability of mobile internet access, Bloomberg added, citing Vodafone director of policy Markus Reinisch.

Kroes told the news agency the EC's telecoms regulations have historically helped the telecoms industry, and that the Commission is not the enemy of operators.

For more:
- see this EC press release
- read this Bloomberg article

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