GSMA DG says EC must back plans for joint mobile and broadcast usage of UHF frequencies

GSM Association (GSMA) director general Anne Bouverot said it is vital the European Commission (EC) allows EU member states to utilise UHF band frequencies for both mobile broadband and broadcast functions.

Bouverot called on the EC to back a "co-primary mobile broadcasting allocation in the UHF band" at the forthcoming ITU World Radiocommunication Conference in November (WRC-15). Such a move would enable individual member states to use UHF spectrum for mobile broadband and broadcast functions, and to react to growing demand for mobile internet access by allocating additional spectrum to the networks as required.

"The UHF band is a critical frequency range in the bid to provide consumers with good value, high-quality mobile broadband in urban and rural areas," Bouverot commented in a statement reacting to the publication of an EC report that recommended re-allocating the 700 MHz band for wireless broadband.

"Ensuring networks can meet the increased demand for mobile broadband services requires policymakers to balance the spectrum requirements of multiple industries," Bouverot continued, adding that giving member states the flexibility to allocate the frequencies to match demand "will protect consumer interests by empowering people in Europe to choose how they want to access content."

The GSMA director general was responding to recommendations made by Pascal Lamy, chairman of an EC High Level Group formed to discuss the future of UHF spectrum. In a report published earlier this week, Lamy said the 700 MHz band that is currently used for terrestrial TV broadcasts should be re-allocated to the wireless industry, and that broadcasts should continue in the 470-694 MHz band until 2030.

Bouverot said backing the GSMA's plan to allocate UHF spectrum to mobile operators and broadcasters would bring the EC a step closer to achieving the goals of its Digital Agenda, while also offering "long-term guarantees for the future of digital terrestrial TV in European countries that rely on terrestrial broadcast services, ensuring a robust future for both industries."

The GSMA also called on the EC to support member states' requests for the release of the 700 MHz band within the next five years, or sooner in markets including France, Germany, Sweden and Finland that already have the capacity to release the spectrum for mobile networks.

A review of sub-700 MHz frequencies should also be scheduled to take place between the WRC-15 and WRC-19 events, the GSMA said.

For more:
- see this GSMA statement
- view the EC's 700 MHz announcement
- read the full EC report [PDF]

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