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GSMA: EC risks falling behind without “greater flexibility” on 700MHz

The European Commission needs to show “greater flexibility” in making 700MHz spectrum available for mobile broadband and should support the release of UHF spectrum between 2018-230 “and potentially earlier”, or risk falling behind other advanced markets, according to mobile industry association the GSMA.

Responding to the conclusion of the consultation period on the Lamy report on UHF last week, the GSMA said that “Europe has fallen behind other developed regions in the mobile Internet race, putting the future of mobile and broadcasting as well as the wider economy at risk.”

According to the GSMA, the UHF band is “the single most promising frequency range for extending good value, high-quality mobile broadband across the continent, from urban centres to rural areas”, and the EU risks falling hend markets including the Asia Pacific and North America if it fails to release the spectrum.

The GSMA called for the EC to step back from a planned delay in a review of the sub-700MHz band until 2025 and bring this forward to no later than 2020, and to support a a co-primary mobile and broadcasting allocation in the sub-700MHz band at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 “so Member States have the flexibility to plan how, should they wish, to use the band for both mobile and broadcasting.”

“The GSMA believes that some free-to-air traditional broadcast delivery will remain essential in the future and should be protected, but it is in the interests of both mobile and broadcast providers that there be greater flexibility in how the UHF spectrum is used in order to meet consumer needs,” the organisation said. “The GSMA is keen to work constructively with the broadcasting industry to develop a solution that will supply long-term guarantees for the future of digital terrestrial TV, while also providing the possibility for part of the sub-700MHz band to be used for mobile services. This will provide peace of mind to European countries that rely on terrestrial broadcast services and ensure a robust future for the region’s mobile and broadcast services.”