The GSM Association (GSMA), the global body for the mobile industry, has called upon the EU to set aside 25pc of the spectrum currently used for analogue television for mobile broadband services.
This will enable many more European citiziens to access broadband internet, the association said.
The GSMA said allocating a chunk of about 100MHz of the so-called digital dividend spectrum, harmonised across Europe, for mobile broadband services would bring enormous social and economic benefits to rural areas currently not served by fixed broadband connections.
2012 is the final date for analogue TV services to be switched off across the EU.
The association said Europe needs to act now to avoid falling behind Asia and the US, which have identified 100MHz chunks of the digital dividend spectrum for mobile use and have already begun to license that spectrum to mobile operators.
It is calling on European governments to allocate spectrum in the 750MHz to 862MHz band to mobile services. Radio signals travel much further in these frequencies than they do in the higher frequencies already used for 3G mobile broadband services, reducing the cost of providing coverage significantly.
“The switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Europe to efficiently extend access to broadband services right across the continent,” said Tom Phillips, chief government & regulatory affairs officer, GSMA. “Just one quarter of the spectrum currently used for analogue television would be sufficient to enable operators to provide mobile broadband services to the many rural areas that can’t be reached economically by fixed-line networks.
“This is a unique, win-win situation for broadcasters and mobile operators alike as the enormous efficiency gains provided by the digital dividend will enable new broadcast and new mobile services to be developed.”
By Niall Byrne