Broadcasters protest over sharing spectrum with cellcos

European TV broadcasters have slammed a proposal by the European Commission to open UHF radio frequencies to cell phone operators, claiming consumers would experience disruption to digital television services.

However, vendors of mobile handsets and infrastructure have welcomed the decision given that it will provide additional, and very valuable, spectrum--presently reserved for terrestrial television broadcasts, for new wireless services. Regardless of the protests, the U.S. seems likely to be one of the most rapid adopters of the ITU proposal--perhaps as early as 2009, while others, including Europe, Africa, China, Russia and much of the Middle East, will wait until 2015 before making the change.

The reforms are aimed at boosting competition in broadband and wireless services by giving national regulators powers to split dominant operators, and would treat that radio spectrum as service neutral, opening any frequency to whoever pays for it--such as the aviation sector, broadcasters or telecoms companies.

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