The European Commission (EC) has launched a public consultation on finding the most effective future usage strategy for the 700MHz (694MHz-790MHz) frequency band; running until 12 April 2015 in this it seeks views on the options proposed in a September 2014 commissioner’s report (the Lamy Report). In a press release yesterday, the EC notes that at present, the 700MHz band is mostly used for broadcasting, but wireless broadband providers are keen to secure the future use of this band. Specifically, the 470MHz-790MHz Ultra High Frequency (UHF) TV broadcasting band is currently used across the European Union (EU) for digital terrestrial television (DTT, mostly via rooftop antennas and free-to-air) and wireless audio equipment, but lower-band frequencies are becoming particularly appropriate to provide wireless broadband at higher speeds and with better geographical coverage.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) – the United Nations body responsible for ICT issues – agreed in 2012 that the 700MHz band could be used either for broadcasting or for mobile services in the EU as of 2016, depending on Member State choice. The EC’s press release states that to further develop the EU Digital Single Market, the EU needs to seize this opportunity and develop a coherent position on the future use of the UHF band.
The Commission is seeking views from the industry, academia and users of TV and/or wireless broadband services on two options proposed in the Lamy Report:
- the ‘2020-2030-2025’ formula with the aim of enabling Europe to fulfil Digital Agenda for Europe broadband targets in three steps, while giving broadcasting a clear path to invest and develop further;
- the 700MHz band should be dedicated to wireless broadband across Europe by 2020 (+/- two years);
- regulatory security and stability for terrestrial broadcasters in the remaining UHF spectrum below 700MHz to be safeguarded until 2030;
-a review should be held by 2025 to assess technology and market developments;
Option 2 is labelled the ‘flexibility option’, which proposes downlink-only wireless broadband use of UHF broadcasting spectrum in the 470MHz-694MHz band. Thereby, broadcasting use would always have priority, while specific channels or locations not used for terrestrial broadcasting could be made available for downlink-only wireless broadband applications depending on national circumstances.