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EBU welcomes Parliamentary committee vote on 700MHz

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has welcomed a vote by the European Parliament’s Industry Committee to validate an earlier EU inter-institutional agreement on preserving access to UHF spectrum below 700MHz for terrestrial TV broadcasting until at least 2030.

The EBU welcomed what it described as a dismissal of a plan to give ‘downlink-only’ access to the fought-over spectrum to mobile operators, which had originally been proposed by the European Commission.

Under the prosposals approved by the Parliament, EU member states will also have the flexibility to set the clearance of the 700 MHz for mobile use to 2022 rather than 2020 if this is proved to be necessary and justified.

Possible justifications include for financial reasons and harmful interference resulting from unresolved cross-border coordination issues.

The final text on the use of the 470-790MHz spectrum is expected to be published in April.

“This agreement ensures that European audiences can continue benefiting from free-to-air TV reception at home, which is crucial to sustain the universality of public service media. At the same time, it puts Europe in the lead when it comes to harmonized spectrum for mobile: 1260 MHz will be available for mobile broadband, which is more than any other region in the world,” said Wouter Gekiere, deputy head of the EBU’s Brussels office.

EBU head of technology and innovation Simon Fell said: “DTT broadcasting is indispensable. There are no other technologies currently out there capable of replicating its advantages, both for viewers and broadcasters. Broadcasting directly connects over 250 million Europeans in their living rooms to European films, documentaries, series, news and sports.”

The latest development comes after the European Council approved plans to reassign the 694-790MHz part of the band for mobile services by June 2020, including the possibility of delaying for up to two years in certain cases.

While broadcasting services will retain priority in the sub-694MHz part of the band until at least 2030, member states will have the flexibility to use this range for other purposes, including mobile internet services, but this use must be compatible with broadcasting needs.

All EU countries must adopt a roadmap for migration by the end of June 2018.

Following parliamentary approval, the proposals now go back to the European Council, which is expected to be completed by the spring of this year.