The European Commission has placed mobile broadband at the heart of its high-speed network plans, unveiling plans to auction off digital dividend spectrum within two years.
Proposals announced yesterday include clear guidance for national regulators to auction off the 800MHz spectrum, to boost wireless broadband services and help plug any gaps in high-speed fiber networks.
The Commission sees wireless access as a key part in achieving the goals of its Digital Agenda, which aims to bring basic broadband to all homes by 2013 and access to high-speed networks by 2020.
"Fast broadband is digital oxygen, essential for Europe's prosperity and well-being,” Digital Agenda vice president Neelie Kroes said. “These measures will help to ensure that Europeans get the first-class internet they expect and deserve, so that they can access the content and services they want.”
The switch from analog to digital TV has freed up spectrum in the 800MHz frequency, however the Commission was concerned national regulators might have reallocated the frequency to regional broadcasters, WSJ.com said.
While Kroes wireless plans are broadly in line with plans from individual regulators, they were fiercely resisted by national broadcasters in the UK and Spain, FT.com reported.
However, the wireless element is only one part of wide-sweeping plans intended to boost investment in fiber networks.
Proposals to give national regulators wide-ranging powers to set wholesale fiber access prices will also require them to account for the risk incumbents face investing in the upgrades, and seeks to encourage shared deployments.
A Deutsche Telekom spokesman broadly welcomed the wireless plans, but told Telecoms Europe.net that closer examination of the fiber proposals is required.
“The main question is, whether the recommendation could stimulate the huge investments needed in broadband infrastructure,” he said.