EU proposes radio spectrum overhaul

26 Jul 2007

Mobile operators in Europe are working within the constraints of 20-year-old legislation which allocates certain parts of the radio spectrum to GSM, preventing newer wireless technologies from using this wavelength.

The European Commission (EC), executive branch of the EU, has put forward among other proposals the repeal of the 1987 GSM Directive which would essentially allow European mobile operators to use this spectrum for 3G data and multimedia services.

The aim of this set of proposals is to significantly reduce operation costs for mobile networks, and increase the amount of wireless services for European customers.

“Radio spectrum is a crucial economic resource which must be properly managed across Europe to unlock the potential of our telecoms sector,” said Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner.

She went on to say that regulatory barriers need to be removed to allow new technologies to share the spectrum with existing ones like GSM.

Earlier in the year Reding pointed out that the total turnover for radio spectrum in Europe’s communications market is estimated to be somewhere between €240bn and €260bn last year.

If the radio spectrum was freed up to allow newer technologies in, Reding claims an additional €8bn to €9bn in revenue could be generated per year.

Proposed changes would not affect the current operation of the GSM mobile standard, but rather would utilise unused parts of the spectrum.

The wireless communications industry itself has estimated that the opening up of the radio spectrum could lead to a 40pc reduction in network costs over five years.

The commission is formulating this change as part of i2010, a policy framework to modernise policy for IT and communications technology in the years up to 2010.

By Marie Boran