The European Commission (EC) yesterday issued a press release saying it has decided to release an additional 120MHz of radio spectrum for 4G technologies, such as Long Term Evolution (LTE), in the 2GHz band. The 2GHz band is currently solely used for 3G Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) wireless communications networks, and will make it mandatory for European Union (EU) Member States to open the relevant spectrum by 30 June 2014 at the latest. The ruling also lays down harmonised technical conditions to allow coexistence between different technologies, the release said. On this basis the EU will enjoy up to twice the amount of spectrum for high speed wireless broadband as in the United States, namely around 1,000MHz.
The EC’s decision means mobile operators in Europe will have more opportunities ‘to invest in [advanced] mobile networks, which will benefit the whole economy, and consumers will, over time, enjoy faster data transfers and more broadband services’. The Commission hopes the initiative will make a substantial contribution to the Digital Agenda broadband target of universal EU broadband coverage of at least 30Mbps by 2020. The EC’s decision enforces the harmonised liberalisation of the 2GHz band (1920MHz-1980MHz paired with 2110MHz-2170MHz) in all Member States, avoiding internal market fragmentation in the future use of this band.
Commenting on the decision, EC vice president Neelie Kroes said: ‘This extra spectrum for 4G in Europe means we can better meet the changing and growing demand for broadband. I want to see Member States acting swiftly to change existing licences. We all win from faster wireless connections in Europe.’
Further, it is understood the EC is also considering a follow-up measure on the unpaired terrestrial 2GHz spectrum (1900MHz-1920MHz and 2010MHz-2025MHz) which is currently allocated for use by UMTS networks but remains unused throughout the EU.