Digitial Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes has warned that Europe is at risk of being overtaken on the global stage in the use of 4G services if key stakeholders fail to co-operate more closely on radio spectrum policy.
Kroes argued during a speech at the annual European Spectrum Management Conference on Tuesday that making radio spectrum available in all member states is essential for the wireless broadband services that could help close the digital divide.
But the commissioner warned that nations must work together to make this happen as other major regions are threatening to overtake Europe in this area.
"We cannot forget that, in developing its digital sector, Europe is taking part in a global game. And we are at risk of being outclassed by the other players who are already engaging in major spectrum initiatives," said Kroes.
"To the west, we know the importance of 'wireless' in president Obama's broadband plan. We also see an acceleration of developments to our east. We are at risk of being squeezed from both sides."
Kroes called for the opening up of more spectrum for wireless broadband, and for "a serious European inventory of spectrum use and review of efficiency" in order to deliver this.
She also pointed to a new communication from the European Commission due for release next year which will set out ways in which spectrum can be shared by taking advantage of new technologies including "cognitive radio" and the "dynamic aggregation of channels to increase bandwidth".
Kroes said in May that telecoms ministers must agree to complete the process of giving licences to operators to use harmonised spectrum bands in the 800MHz range for 4G access by the end of 2012.
The use of the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum ranges are capable of delivering mobile broadband speeds of up to 100Mbit/s and are cited as a key way for Europe to solve the digital divide.
Use of these networks is likely to happen by 2014 in the UK, although operators such as O2 are unhappy with Ofcom's proposals for how the auctions for this spectrum are set out, which could delay the process even further.
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