Broadcasters should be pushed off 700MHz band by 2020, EC hears

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Broadcasters and wireless microphones should be pushed off the 700MHz band by 2020 to make way for European wireless broadband services, the European Commission has heard.

The EC was today served a proposal by former Commissioner Pascal Lamy outlining how best to make use of the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) spectrum for wireless broadband, which he claimed offered “prime real estate” for providers and users alike.

As part of a “2020-2030-2025” proposal, Lamy suggested that the 700MHz band be dedicated to wireless broadband across Europe by 2020, and the remaining UHF spectrum below 700MHz safeguarded for terrestrial broadcasters until 2030.

Furthermore, a review to assess technology and market developments of UHF should by carried out by 2025, which would allow the opportunity to re-assess Europe’s broadband requirements and avoid any delay in meeting data demands, the EC heard.

In a statement, Lamy said: "For too long the broadband and broadcasting communities have been at loggerheads about the use of the UHF spectrum band.

“There have been many different views and perspectives. On the basis of discussions with the two sectors, I have put forward a single scheme that could provide a way forward for Europe to thrive in the digital century."

Commenting on the proposal, Vice President Neelie Kroes said: "Pascal's report lays down a path for creating capacity for fast wireless broadband everywhere and for ensuring a stable and predictable future for terrestrial broadcasting, while allowing those member states that want to move forward more quickly to do so.

“It would also ensure sustainable co-existence, as both sectors focus increasingly on advanced media services. This is essential to secure our changing digital future and hold our own in international negotiations."

A harmonised spectrum is widely viewed as the only way to meet the predicted 45-fold increase in mobile data use by 2030.

In August, the GSMA repeated calls for a harmonised band to deal with the surge in mobile traffic.

The 700MHz band is the favoured option, being the only one available for wide-reaching shared use and offering speeds up to 10 times faster than standard 3G networks.

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