Brussels: The GSMA welcomes the European Council’s proactive and rapid adoption of its General Approach for the European Commission proposal “Decision on the use of the 470-790MHz spectrum band in the Union proposal”.
The rapid evolution in mobile broadband and broadcast services requires Europe to keep all options open for how the UHF spectrum band will be used, in particular in the sub-700MHz band. Mobile data usage continues to grow dramatically as more people consume increasing amounts of content on mobile devices. However, Europe has fallen behind other developed regions in fast mobile connectivity, putting the future of mobile, as well as the wider economy, at risk.
The timely and coordinated release of the 700MHz band is critical for the development of mobile communications in Europe. We applaud the positive developments in countries such as France and Germany that have already licensed the 700MHzfrequencies well ahead of the 2020 deadline suggested by the proposal. The GSMA encourages the co-legislators to adopt similar forward-looking approaches as it is essential that Member States have flexibility to move sooner to respond to the sustained growth in mobile data traffic.
To prevent frequency overlap with non-Union countries delaying implementation it is crucial for the proposal to maintain the June 2017 and December 2017 dates for the completion of cross-border coordination and the publication of the national plans. Such action will help to avoid repeating the difficulties seen in the release of the 800MHz band in Europe. If not released in a coordinated manner, mobile ‘dead zones’ can arise, affecting border regions between Member States and negatively impacting consumers1.
Concerning the sub-700MHz band, the GSMA considers the “flexibility option” initially proposed by the European Commission as a limited step in the right direction. Allowing for genuine regulatory flexibility in a timely manner can allow Europe to keep pace with spectrum allocations in other regions, including North America, where regulators have started the auction process for a paired, uplink and downlink use of the 600MHz band. Moreover, the GSMA urges the co-legislators to align the review process of the UHF band that has been suggested with the timeline agreed at the ITU and complete it by World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023.
“We are hoping to see a different scenario than we had with the implementation of 800MHz, where certain countries requested longer periods of time to release the band” said John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer, GSMA. “We recognise that there are differences in frequency use among Member States, and it is only natural that timing may vary slightly. However, we should agree on maintaining 2020 as an ultimate milestone in the shift to mobile for the 700MHz band. Without this commitment, Europe is at risk of falling behind other regions in mobile broadband development.”
Note to the editors:
1 GSMA Report: Market Evidence of Greater Spectrum Policy Harmonisation in the EU
About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with more than 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai and the Mobile 360 Series conferences.
Olivier Lechien, PR Director, Europe
+32 479 99 01 63
GSMA Press Office