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Europe to Open up GSM Spectrum to LTE and WiMAX Services

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Technical rules on how the 900 and 1800 MHz radio frequency bands should be opened up to 4G based services have just been adopted by the European Commission. The rules are designed to avoid interference problems with existing GSM and 3G devices and must be implemented by Member States by the end of this year.

In particular, the Commission's Decision sets out technical parameters allowing for the co-existence on the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands of GSM, 3G and either LTE or WiMXA based 4G technology.

The Decision sets up a mechanism for the adoption of technical harmonisation rules based on input received from national radio frequency experts. National administrations have until 31 December 2011 to implement the Decision into their national rules so that GSM bands are effectively made available for LTE and WiMAX systems. Based on the Commission's first steps to open the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands in 2009, Member States have already had to examine competition between mobile operators and address any distortions of competition, in accordance with the EU's telecoms rules.

In 2009, technical studies were undertaken to demonstrate that LTE and WiMAX could safely coexist with the other systems already using the same bandwidth. These studies also clarified the technical conditions under which the systems using the 900 and 1800 MHz bands will be able to protect systems in neighbouring frequency bands, such as GSM for railways and aeronautical services, from interference. Member States are obliged to give appropriate protection to systems in adjacent frequency bands.


The GSM Directive of 1987 reserved the use of part of the 900MHz spectrum band for GSM (Global System for Mobile) access technologies such as mobile phones.

The GSM Directive was updated in September 2009 by Directive 2009/114/EC to allow more advanced, next generation wireless technologies to also use this band of the radio spectrum, starting with 3G (UMTS) mobile broadband technology.

At the same time the Commission clarified the technical conditions necessary to enable such action in Decision 2009/766/EC. This decision not only protects GSM, but also obliges Member States to give appropriate protection to systems in adjacent frequency bands.

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Tags: 900mhz  1800mhz  radio spectrum  lte  wimax  european commission  4g