Europe reaches 700 MHz agreement just as paint begins to dry

The European Commission (hereafter known as the Gaggle of Red-tapers) has stated it has come to an agreement with the European Parliament and European Council on how to best use the 700 MHz band.

Demand for wireless connectivity and mobile services has been rapidly increasing with the almost universal penetration of smartphones, however the strain on spectrum debate has been noticeable. The 700 MHz band has been in high demand, due to its long-range capabilities and ability to pierce obstacles, but there’s only so much which can go around. This announcement will give priority to mobile operators, while also making reference to TV broadcasters.

“Better spectrum coordination is vital to provide higher quality internet to all Europeans,” said Andrus Ansip, VP for the Digital Single Market for the Gaggle of Red-tapers. “It paves the way for 5G, the next generation of communication networks, and the internet of things.

“We made a first step today with a joint approach to use the 700 MHz band in the EU. We should go further and this is one of main objectives of our new Electronic Communications Code and 5G action plan presented earlier this year. We should progress as swiftly on these initiatives which are essential to have first-class connectivity in the Digital Single Market. We struck a first agreement today, we should reach many more as soon as possible.”

“A coordinated strategy for the whole UHF band asserts our European vision,” said Günther Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society. “It ensures that Europeans can access innovative services and creative content on the move from their tablets and smartphones, as well as on smart TV sets at home. The coordinated release of the 700 MHz band is major leap forward on the Union’s path to 5G.”

The agreement itself builds on a proposal put forward by the Gaggle of Red-tapers back in February (demonstrating the glacier pace we have now come to accept from rule makers in the union), with a formal endorsement from all parties expected to be made in the coming weeks. The agreement states the following:

  • The 700 MHz band should be assigned to mobile operators and made available for wireless broadband use by 30 June 2020 at the latest in all EU Member states. Exceptions can be made under certain conditions until 30 June 2022.
  • In the sub-700 MHz band (470-694 MHz), long-term priority is given to broadcasting use until 2030, though should countries wish to investigate alternative spectrum use they are free to. The alternative spectrum use will depend on the take-up of digital terrestrial television in the country.

The Gaggle of Red-tapers has stated this agreement is in place to remove ‘divergences between regulatory practices’ of the Gaggle, the Council and Parliament. In short, the Gaggle of Red-tapers wants to remove over-regulation by introducing overarching regulation, which will probably change in a couple of years.

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