Europe ratifies co-ordinated use of UHF spectrum for mobile

The European Parliament has approved proposals to co-ordinate the use of the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band for mobile broadband across the EU from mid-2020.

Following the agreement, EU member states will now have until 30 June 2020 to ensure use of the band falls in line with EU conditions, including amending any relevant existing rights to use the spectrum. By this point, member states will also have to submit their national technology roadmaps to the European Commission, to ensure future plans meet criteria. The social, economic, cultural and technological impacts of this decision will then be assessed in 2025.

“Today’s vote is a major milestone in EU’s spectrum coordination – both on harmonised allocation and on assignment of a frequency band,” said Andrus Ansip, VP for the Digital Single Market at the European Commission. “It enables low-cost network rollout and top-quality internet access services to all Europeans, also in rural areas.

“Now Europe has a solid basis for a common vision and coordinated effort in the UHF band, and Member States should publish and follow national roadmaps for transition, in support of the digital economy and consumers.”

Previous claims from the European Commission estimates mobile internet traffic will increase by as much as eight times through to 2020, a more co-ordinated and efficient use of the spectrum was required. This vote ratifies and earlier agreement between the three European bureaucratic bodies to ensure use of such bands are standardized throughout the European bloc, to limit interference across borders.

The fear here was unless the boring bureaucrats came to an agreement at the very top level, fragmentation in the use of the UHF band would lead to as much as 13% of the EU population being impacted by interference.

Fears were also raised as several nations have already launched or completed a national process to authorise the use of the 700 MHz frequency band, unless action was taken quickly (not exactly a strong point of the boring bureaucrats), fragmentation would have a negative impact on the rollout of 5G, as well as the technologies which are activated off the back.

“This connectivity depends on radio spectrum – which knows no borders,” said Ansip. “That’s why our agreement at EU level on how to coordinate this key and finite resource for wireless communications is so crucial.”

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