EU frees up more spectrum for mobile broadband

The EU Council approved plans yesterday to free up the 700MHz band specially for transmitting mobile broadband, across all 28 nations in the Union.

The nations, including the UK, will have until 2020 to roll the spectrum out. By 2018 we'll need to have adopted a public 'national roadmap' detailing how it'll be implemented.

What's known as the 700MHz band - the range from 694-790MHz - is useful because signals at that frequency can cover a wide area, easily passing through walls without sacrificing too much speed. That makes it ideal for mobile broadband like 4G.

Currently, the 470-790MHz is generally used for digital TV and wireless microphones, like the kind you see in theatres, stadiums, and other events. Because it's so widely used like this, broadcasters will still have priority over the 'sub 700' band (so, 470-693MHz). Only the very top tier of it will be freed for mobile broadband.

France and Germany have already allowed this bit of the spectrum to be used for mobile signal, while the UK - plus Denmark, Finland, and Sweden - plan to do the same over the next few years.

Henk Kamp, Dutch minister for economic affairs, stressed how important this decision is for Europe's broadband and mobile infrastructure. He said: "An important step towards the availability of broadband for everybody in the EU has been taken. Fast internet is not only important for economic development in the EU, but also for the daily life of its citizens."

Europe's mobile industry is on board with the decision too. John Giusti of GSMA, the mobile industries group, said it is a vital step in making sure the continent isn't "at risk of falling behind other regions in mobile broadband development" - though the GSMA strongly urged the EU to stick rigidly to the 2020 deadline.

The European Commission hopes that freeing up more spectrum will encourage uptake of 4G services - prepping us for the upcoming 5G mobile internet.

Source: Reuters | Advanced Television

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