Mobile broadband should have exclusive use of the 700 MHz band of the European Union’s Ultra High Frequency spectrum by 2020, the European Commission was told today (1 September).

In return, terrestrial broadcasters should be guaranteed the remaining UHF spectrum below 700 MHz (470-694 MHz) until 2030, a report by Pascal Lamy for the executive recommended.

EU, national and international regulatory stability for broadcasters must be safeguarded, the report said.

Europe should reject any international plans at 2015’s World Radiocommunication Conference to give the 470-694 MHz band over to mobile, it added.  

The conference is to review and revise global spectrum rules, which are needed to prevent interference between users in different countries.

Lamy also backed a review by 2025, so the Commission can take any new technology or market developments into account, as part of its Digital Agenda For Europe programme.

The Lamy Report sets out a strategy to resolve broadcasters and mobile operators rival claims for the UHF spectrum, which is a finite resource. It is mostly used for broadcasting, mobile broadband and wireless microphones.

While the two industries had agreed that the 700 MHz band, currently used by broadcasters, should be repurposed for wireless broadband, they could not agree how and when.

The 2020 deadline should be plus or minus two years to take into account diversity in terrestrial broadcasting across the EU. Enough time is needed to make sure costs for consumers and spectrum users were minimised.

Former trade commissioner and World Trade Organisation chief Lamy spent six months discussing the issue with a group of broadcasters, network operators, mobile companies and tech associations before making his recommendations.

Presenting the report today in Brussels to Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes, he said, ‘’For too long the broadband and broadcasting communities have been at loggerheads about the use of the UHF spectrum band.

‘’I have put forward a single scheme that could provide a way forward for Europe to thrive in the digital century.’’

Kroes added, “Pascal’s report lays down a path for creating capacity for fast wireless broadband everywhere and for ensuring a stable and predictable future for terrestrial broadcasting.

“This [the report] is essential to secure our changing digital future and hold our own in international organisations.”

The European Commission today also decided to harmonise radio spectrum bands for microphones used at sport events and concerts. The wireless microphones also rely on the UHF band.

Under new rules, radio microphones for Programme Making and Special Events (PMSE) will have access to at least 59 MHz of EU spectrum, which can be increased at national level if necessary.



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