Evidence is plentiful that allocating Digital Dividend spectrum to mobile gives markets the greatest potential to deliver social and economic benefits. These benefits can only realised, however, when countries align their mobile spectrum to the region’s international band plan. This harmonisation ensures that devices are as affordable as possible, and affordability, in turn, has a strong impact on service take-up.
Following WRC-07, there is a difference among the international mobile spectrum allocations for Region 1 (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), Region 2 (the Americas) and Region 3 (Asia). In Region 1, the allocation of 790–862MHz is higher, and a little smaller, than the allocation of 698–806MHz in the Americas and most of Asia.
The GSMA has developed region-specific recommendations to allow the greatest possible harmonisation across the world, taking into account local needs and the work carried out at the ITU and other international organisations. These recommendations are brought together after close discussion with the local operators, the manufacturing community as well as government and ITU officials.
At WRC-12, it was agreed that, from 2015, Region 1 countries including EU Member States could deploy mobile services in the 700MHz band on a national basis. This is positive and presents an opportunity for globally harmonised bands. The director of the ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau, François Rancy, stated on concluding WRC-12 that the decision of the APT to adopt a conventional duplex arrangement, combined with the European reverse duplex configuration in 800MHz, meant the plans could be used concurrently, “like an à la carte menu.”
Work has just started with operators, manufacturers and governments to determine the optimal approach to maximising the potential across the 700MHz band in Region 1, ensuring alignment with existing 800MHz allocations while realising the benefits of harmonisation with Region 2 and Region 3.
The Digital Dividend is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Governments should therefore exploit the opportunity of the Digital Dividend without delay.