EC Proposes 2020 for 700MHz Switch

A proposal from the European Commission (EC) would require EU countries to release the 700MHz spectrum by the 30th June 2020, so that it can be used for mobile broadband and cross-border applications. This is a significant change to the ’20-25-30′ conclusion reached by the Lamy Report, which set a flexible deadline for the transition.

All 28 member states would have to make their plans public by the 30th June 2017. France and Germany have already authorised the use of the band for mobile data. Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the UK are in the process of doing so.

Currently, the 700MHz band is largely used for DTT TV services. The EC has promised to safeguard such services using the ultra-high frequency (UHF) spectrum, at 470-694MHz.

The proposal (UHF Spectrum Strategy) will now be examined by both the European Parliament and EU member states. It will become law when these two bodies agree on the same text.

Analyst Comment

Reactions to the proposal have been divided. The European Broadcasters’ Union (EBU) expressed concerns, with head of European affairs Nicola Frank noting, “Moving DTT services out of the 700MHz band by 2020 is a major challenge”. She also remarked on the cost to broadcasters and said, “[B]y introducing a so-called ‘flexibility option’ to deploy alternative technologies in the sub-700 MHz band, the European Commission is opting for something which has not yet been validated by technical studies and for which there is no proven market demand.”

On the other hand, the move was welcomed by Digitaleurope, which represents Europe’s overall technology industry. The organisation said that the proposal was ‘in line with’ the Lamy Report and the position of the Radio Spectrum Policy Group. (TA)