A European Commission decision will open up a substantial amount of radio spectrum throughout the European Union for radio local area networks (RLANs), commonly known as WiFi. This decision, quite some time in coming, is part of the i2010 initiative to encourage growth and jobs in the digital economy. It will hasten the opening of a competitive single market for wireless access systems. Access to this spectrum with common rules will make equipment cheaper and ease the growing overload of spectrum already in use. According to market analysts, today's 120 million WiFi users worldwide, with 25 million in Western Europe, may grow to 500 million or more over the next three years. This will put WiFi WLANs in the same league as cellular mobile in terms of number of users.
The change will be implemented by member states by the end of October 2005, and it makes two frequency bands (5150-5350 MHz and 5470-5725 MHz) available in all member states for wireless access systems. The decision also introduces innovative spectrum management such as Transmitter Power Control (TPC) and Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) to lessen interference. The 5150-5350 MHz is for indoor use with only with a maximum EIRP of 200 mW. In the 5470-5725 MHz band, both indoor and outdoor use is allowed with a maximum EIRP of 1 Watt.