Delay of 800MHz band adoption hurting citizens – European Commission

24 Jul 2013

Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president with responsibility for the Digital Agenda. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Half of the European Union’s member states have requested to postpone the use of the 800MHz band for wireless broadband due to exceptional reasons, missing the 1 January 2013 deadline they had originally agreed to, the European Commission has reported.

The commission granted nine of the 14 requests yesterday.

Opening up the 800MHz band is essential for expanding the use of wireless broadband services, and in Ireland, the spectrum has been freed up by the transition from analogue to digital TV technology.

“We have agreed to temporary and limited 800MHz derogations for nine countries,” said Neelie Kroes, European Commission vice-president with responsibility for the Digital Agenda.

“This is a pragmatic and final concession. Every delay in releasing spectrum hurts our economy and frustrates citizens. That is why spectrum reform will be a centrepiece of the commission’s September proposal for a telecoms single market.”

The commission has agreed to postponements for Spain, Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Poland, Romania and Finland. It refused derogations for Slovakia and Slovenia, where the delays were due to the organisation of the authorisation process and not to exceptional circumstances preventing the availability of the band.

Greece, Latvia and the Czech Republic require additional evaluation.

Belgium and Estonia were late but have not asked for a derogation, while Bulgaria has notified the continued use of the band for public security and defence purposes.

One example of the consequence of delaying the adoption of the 800MHz band is phones not being fully functional in Europe, the commission said.

This is because phone manufacturers leave out the appropriate radio chips needed to connect in Europe because not enough countries have licensed the same spectrum on time.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic