EU to vote on digital dividend spectrum plan in June

The full European Parliament will vote on in June on the European Commission's proposal to harmonise and release a significant amount of spectrum, including that from the digital dividend.

The Industry Committee of the European Parliament gave the green light this week to the plans, which aim to deliver universal fast broadband Internet coverage with speeds of at least 30Mbps for all Europeans by 2020, clearing the way for the full vote.

At the heart of the plan is the re-allocation of spectrum freed by the switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasting to new services, and particularly to mobile broadband.

Under the Commission's plans, EU countries would have to make the 800MHz band available for the harmonised use of wireless broadband services by the end of 2012. This should be beneficial to Europe's operators, which have been crying out for new spectrum in lower bands, although the Industry Committee did pass an amendment which would allow EU countries to ask for a postponement until the end of 2015, or even longer, if they have problems in cross-border frequency coordination with neighbouring third countries. This does only apply though to those that border non-EU countries.

Additionally, the Commission has set a target for at least 1,200MHz of spectrum to be allocated for mobile data traffic by 2015 and the Commission has been asked to monitor the need for additional frequencies (including the 700MHz band) to be harmonised for mobile services as well.

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