EU to Open Up Mobile Spectrum

To encourage innovation in telecommunications, radio spectrum previously reserved for GMS mobile networks may be freed up

The European Commission (EC) has proposed the removal of restrictions on the radio spectrum previously used solely for GSM mobile phone networks.

The proposals include the repeal of the 1987 GSM Directive which allocated the 900MHz-1800MHz spectrum to GSM services only.

The move is aimed at making it easier and more lucrative for operators to develop innovative wireless technologies such as 3G, mobile data or multimedia services.

European telecoms commissioner Viviane Reding said the EU needs to remove regulatory barriers and allow new tech to share the spectrum. This will be a "concrete step" towards a more "flexible market-driven approach" to spectrum management, she said.

This should mean a greater choice of wireless services available to European citizens and should also expand the geographical coverage of mobile networks. Another benefit could be reduced network deployment costs for the wireless communications industry as it will remove the need to develop services on other spectrums.

It has been estimated that the wireless comms industry could save up to 40 per cent in cumulative capital expenditure over five years if the proposals come to fruition.

Mike Grant, head of broadband and media at consultancy Analysys told "This is an interesting move by the Commission. One of the reasons is that technology is now allowing use of spectrum in a way previously not possible."

He added the move is "a helpful step forward".

Mark Blowers, senior research analyst at the Butler Group, agreed. He said the EC is being more pragmatic: "To my mind, that's a good thing."

The European Commission expects the measures to be in place by the end of the year.

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