Report: EC targets longer spectrum licences to boost operator investment

European Commission (EC) proposals to overhaul Europe’s telecoms regulations are expected to include a call to increase the term of spectrum licences to 25 years, as the body seeks to boost operator investment in the sector.

Internal documents viewed by Reuters show the commission is preparing to include the call for longer licenses in a range of proposals for reforming Europe’s telecoms regulations. The news agency reported that the proposals are set to be published in September and that the commission aims to have the plans ratified by 2018.

While the commission believes 25-year licences would boost investment by operators by offering them greater certainty, Reuters noted that the proposals could meet resistance from European Union member states’ existing national telecoms regulators.

The news agency pointed out that national regulators are keen to maintain control of the issue of spectrum. Past spectrum auctions have proven a lucrative source of additional income for member states, it noted.

However, the current process of selling spectrum has resulted in differences in the length of time licenses last for in different member states, which Reuters noted can stymie operators’ ability to offer region-wide services.

In addition to its proposal to increase the length of spectrum licences, the EC wants greater control of the terms and conditions connected with the permits.

The commission proposes that it should have the ability to stipulate key conditions, including deadlines for allocating spectrum and spectrum sharing arrangements.

While that element could also prove a flash point with national regulators, the EC plans to offer member states the ability to collaborate on spectrum sales, opening the door for licences that cover multiple countries or even the entire European Union.

Earlier this week the Financial Times reported that the EC is also gearing up to propose that online messaging services including WhatsApp and Skype should be more heavily regulated, as part of an overhaul of European Union electronic privacy rules.

The proposal would potentially appease Europe’s operators, which have long argued that such online services enjoy an unfair advantage because of less stringent regulations.

For more:
- see this Reuters report

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