The European Commission’s goal of offering ubiquitous high-speed broadband access has been boosted by a key parliamentary vote covering digital dividend spectrum.
Members of the European Parliament’s Industry Committee yesterday approved the EC’s draft radio spectrum policy program (RSPP), clearing the way for a vote on the proposed re-farming of redundant analog TV frequencies in the full Parliament in June.
The RSPP is a cornerstone of the Commission’s Digital Agenda, which aims to offer all citizens access to basic broadband services in the next two years, and high-speed connections by 2020.
MEPs are keen to promote the Digital Agenda to keep Europe at the forefront of global Web development, and have called for additional mobile spectrum in the 1200MHz band to be made available for mobile internet services from 2013. The Parliament also wants the Commission to explore harmonizing additional frequencies to open the door to new users, mooting the 700MHz band as a possibility.
However, a requirement for all member states to open up 800MHz frequencies for mobile web services from Jan 1 2013 was eased, with the Committee approving an extension scheme allowing countries experiencing interference issues with neighboring states to push the launch back to end-2015.
National regulators will play a key role in assessing which frequencies should be made available, to prevent distorting competition, the Committee states. The requirement could lead to some confusion, though, as regulators would have to balance the need to limit the spectrum available to some operators with non-discriminatory allocation procedures.
Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes last year told Telecoms Europe.net the proposals in the agenda and RSPP are all that is required to meet the broadband access targets, rather than a region-wide operator along the lines of Australia’s NBN Co.