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EC demands unified approach to mobile spectrum use

03 Sep 2012
Mobile spectrum antenna against sunset

The European Commission (EC) has unveiled the latest update in its ongoing push to ensure nations across Europe are able to maximise the use of radio spectrum frequencies.

The EC wants to ensure that the benefits these spectrum offer, such as for 3G and 4G mobile broadband connections or machine-to-machine communications, are utilised to the full as their importance to businesses and consumers increases.

As such the EC has issued two measures under its Radio Spectrum Policy Programme that it wants national regulators to adhere too, such as Ofcom in the UK. The first of these would see the improved availability of frequencies that don't require a licence to use.

This could help with the development and use of so-called white space technology, that take advantage of gaps within spectrum bands.

Secondly, the EC wants to ensure all nations across Europe enforce consistent regulations on the use, and legal positions around, certain spectrums. The aim is to ensure future technologies are compatible across the region.

This would boost the economic potential for firms operating in the region, a vital aspect of the benefits of spectrum technologies according to the vice president of the Digital Agenda for the EC, Neelie Kroes.

"Radio spectrum is economic oxygen, it is used by every single person and business. If we run out of spectrum then mobile networks and broadband won't work," she said.

"That is unacceptable, we must maximise this scarce resource by re-using it and creating a single market out of it. We need a single market for spectrum in order to regain global industrial leadership in mobile and data, to attract more R&D investments."

Ofcom welcomed the EC's stance and echoed its points that a harmonised approach to spectrum holdings is required to derive the full benefits of spectrum holdings.

"We are seeing a massive increase in demand for wireless services and European consumers risk losing out unless we find more fundamental ways - such as dynamic spectrum access - to meet that demand," a spokesperson told V3.

"Ofcom is already progressing plans for the introduction of White Space technology in the UK - the first country in Europe to do so.

"However, in order for its full benefit to be realised, regulators and policy-makers from across Europe need to move forward together to establish a clear shift towards spectrum sharing, prompting the huge potential for innovation to which markets can respond."

Currently Ofcom is at the centre of a storm among major mobile operators in the UK on issues relating to spectrum use, after it awarded Everything Everywhere the right to run 4G services on its existing 2G 1800MHz band.

This led to outrage from rivals O2 and Vodafone, with O2 considering legal action as a result.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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