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Commission proposes to boost mobile internet services with high-quality radio frequencies

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The European Commission has presented a proposal to coordinate the use of the 700MHz band for mobile services.

Radio frequencies know no borders: spectrum needs to be better coordinated at EU level to avoid interferences and to allow innovative services, such as connected cars or remote health care, to work across the continent. The EU also has to cope with the growing demand for wireless broadband. By 2020 there will be nearly eight times as much mobile internet traffic as today.

As part of its strategy to create a Digital Single Market, it proposes a balanced long-term approach for the use of the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band (470-790 MHz). Currently, this band is mainly used for TV broadcasting. According to the proposal, more spectrum will be made available for mobile services in the 700 MHz band (694-790 MHz) by 2020. This band is ideal for providing high-quality internet to users, wherever they are, be it a large city, a small distant village or on a highway. Frequencies in the sub-700 MHz area (470-694 MHz) will remain available, as a priority, for audiovisual services. This approach will make sure that Europeans can have access to creative content on tablets and smartphones - an increasing trend - but also through classic TV services.

The EU said that the proposal is also in line with the most recent international agreements on the use of the UHF band including the 700 MHz band.

The proposal comprises two major elements:

In the 700 MHz band: a common schedule for making it effectively available for wireless broadband use under harmonised technical conditions, and related coordination measures in support of this transition;
in the sub-700 MHz band: long-term priority for the distribution of audiovisual media services to the general public, along with a flexible approach for spectrum use to cater for different levels of digital terrestrial television (DTT) uptake in Member States.

Coordinated transition towards 2020

The Commission proposes that the 700 MHz band should be assigned to wireless broadband by 30 June 2020 at the latest in all EU countries. This will be in line with the deployment of 5G, foreseen as from 2020. To meet this deadline, Member States will need to adopt and make public their national plans for network coverage and for releasing this band by 30 June 2017. They will need also to conclude cross-border coordination agreements by the end of 2017. Such plans will smooth the transition and ensure good network coverage that will help to bridge the digital divide and create the necessary coverage conditions for connected vehicles or remote health care.

Two Member States (France, Germany) have already authorised the use of the 700 MHz band for mobile services. Further Member States (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, UK) have outlined plans to repurpose the 700 MHz band in the next few years.

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Tags: european commission  radio spectrum  700mhz