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EU to recommend radio spectrum for mobile broadband

23 октября 2009

The European Commission wants to ensure that radio frequency freed up by switching from analog to digital television will be used for wireless broadband, according to a draft document seen by Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.

To facilitate the new usage of the frequency, the commission wants European Union countries to leave the specific 790 to 862 megahertz band free of broadcasting, so it can be used for mobile broadband and other communication services, according to the draft recommendations.

The commission is set to adopt the recommendation toward the end of next week, according to a person familiar with the issue. Commission recommendations aren't legally binding, but set a strong precedent for member states to follow.

While most of Europe will have made the digital switch-over by 2012, the commission is worried some E.U. countries are lagging, which would put a dampener on the whole process. The commission will therefore also call for tardy member states to conclude the switch-off from analog TV by the beginning of 2012 at the latest, according to the draft.

The commission says that by allocating part of the radio spectrum to wireless broadband services, Europe can benefit from the analog switch-over by an additional EUR20 billion to EUR50 billion over 15 years.

Europe suffers from a diverging broadcasting map, according to telecom's operators that are keen to step in to take up the freed spectrum. Countries like Italy and Spain have a multitude of regional television stations, and a worry remains that they could be tempted to hand the freed up spectrum over to more regional broadcasting.

Further usage of the 790 MHz to 862 MHz band for broadcasting in one E.U. country could "severely impede" the use of the spectrum for new uses in neighboring member states, the commission says. This is because high-power broadcasting signals travel over long distances and cause interference with two-way communication signals, the commission added.

The European Competitive Telecommunications Association, whose members include BT Group PLC, KPN Mobile NV and Virgin Media Inc., said it is broadly positive that the commission is pushing for more concerted action among member states for releasing the radio spectrum for wireless communications.

However, the industry group is worried that the proposals may not address competition problems around how the spectrum is allocated among telecoms providers, said Ilsa Godlovitch, director of ECTA's regulatory affairs.

In Germany, for example, the local regulator is auctioning the new radio spectrum in a manner that will benefit the two dominant mobile operators in the country, Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile and Vodafone Group PLC, at the expense of new entrants, Godlovitch added.

Источник: Total Telecom

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