The European Commission (EC) will release an extra 120 MHz spectrum around the 2 GHz band to provide operators with more LTE frequencies. The 2 GHz band was previously reserved for 3G services.
The EC, which said that it will become mandatory for European Union member states to open up this part of the spectrum by mid-2014, has issued details concerning the technical harmonisation requirements to allow co-existence between different technologies.
"This extra spectrum for LTE in Europe means we can better meet the changing and growing demand for broadband. I want to see member states acting swiftly to change existing licences. We all win from faster wireless connections in Europe," Neelie Kroes, EU commissioner for digital policy, said in a statement.
The spectrum being put forward sits between 1920-1980 MHz, paired with 2110-2170 MHz, which has been used for 3G services since 2002. This does not necessarily mean European operators will need to move their existing 3G customers off the 2100 MHz band, but it provides operators with the potential to refarm this spectrum for LTE services.
Before any changes are made, telecom regulators in many countries will be required to hold consultations, although the EC has not provided a timetable for this. An Ofcom spokesman told Mobile Today: "The EC's decision is consistent with Ofcom's longstanding objective to reduce regulation and increase more flexible use of spectrum wherever appropriate."
The EC said it is also considering a follow-up measure on the unpaired terrestrial 2 GHz spectrum (1900-1920 MHz and 2010-2025 MHz) which is currently allocated for 3G, but remains unused throughout the EU.
However, this decision by the EC to free up spectrum could cause difficulties in some countries, according to TechWeek Europe, as some of the spectrum in Europe is leased by private companies, which could be reluctant to share such a valuable asset with other operators.
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