Speed Up Digital TV Switch, Brussels Says

European Union member states should hurry up their switchover from analogue to digital television, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

In doing so, countries will free up radio spectrum that can instead be used for other services such as wireless internet, more advanced mobile phones and high-definition TV channels.

Remote parts of the continent that are losing out on the digital revolution as telecoms companies are reluctant to deliver services to such unprofitable regions could also benefit, the EU executive said in a communication, as wireless broadband could use the new spectrum to deliver high-speed internet to areas not yet reached by landlines.

Information society commissioner Viviane Reding encouraged member states to move to digital TV by January 2012.

"The digital dividend is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make 'broadband for all' a reality all over Europe and boost some of the most innovative sectors of our economy."

To aid the switchover, the commission set out how one part of the freed-up spectrum, the 790-862 MHz sub-band - the spectrum that travels far and through buildings - can be set aside to support the emergence of new wireless services such as 3G and 4G mobile phone services.

The commission also said it would harmonise the technical conditions for using this sub-band across the EU.

Brussels believes that the services that would be created by the shift can give the bloc an economic boost of between €20 and €50 billion.

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