EC wants radio spectrum used for wireless broadband by 2013 - European Union

The European Commission (EC) has today called for radio spectrum to be made available for wireless broadband by 2013.

The proposal came from Neelie Kroes, the EC Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, who wants to introduce a Radio Spectrum Policy Programme. She said a more ambitious approach to spectrum management is needed, which could see wireless broadband become widespread throughout Europe.

The Digital Agenda has already laid out plans to deliver basic broadband to all European citizens within the next three years and Kroes believes radio spectrum is needed to ensure that target is met. The EC also has plans to deliver ultra-fast broadband to Europeans by 2020.

The idea would be to utilise the 800MHz band, which was freed up when many European countries switched from analogue to digital television broadcasting. This would be converted for wireless broadband use, which will mostly likely be the slower 3G for the 2013 deadline and faster 4G for 2020.

The EC believes the 2013 deadline is both “necessary and realistic” and will push for all Member States to upgrade their broadband networks to meet the requirements. An extension to 2015 is a possibility for certain countries struggling to get their internet access up to scratch.

Kroes also pointed out the importance of implementing the Broadband Strategy that was agreed in September. This plan will focus on encouraging private and public investment in high-speed broadband networks, which should put European countries on course for the 2020 deadline.

Roaming is also on the agenda, with the EC calling for roaming charges to be lowered to bring them in line with standard national rates. A review of the current roaming regulation is due in June of 2011, while the EC wants there to be no additional charges for roaming by 2015.