PM+: EU broadband and broadcast: getting on the same wavelength?

Written by Alessandro Casagni on 10 September 2014 in Opinion Plus
Opinion Plus

The 700 MHz band is key to developing Europe's mobile broadband networks, writes Alessandro Casagni.

As a finite and limited resource, spectrum is naturally a most valuable commodity for the ICT and broadcasting communities. At Huawei, we have been eagerly awaiting the results of the work of the EU high level group on the future use of the much-coveted UHF band.

We welcome the publication of the report presented by Pascal Lamy to the European Commission on 1 September: it is an important milestone to securing the long-term development of high-speed wireless broadband services in Europe and we are glad to see that there is broad agreement on this key issue.

We regret that stakeholders were not able to agree on a common way forward with regard to the deadline for releasing the 700 MHz band or on the approach to utilising the 470-694 MHz ranges.

"We welcome the publication of the report presented by Pascal Lamy to the European Commission on 1 September: it is an important milestone to securing the long-term development of high-speed wireless broadband services in Europe"

However, we fully understand the reasons for this lack of consensus. It is now up to the new 'Juncker commission' to continue the forward-looking initiatives to resolve these differences for the benefit of Europe's citizens.

At Huawei, we believe that the mobile broadband community requires decisive short-term action on the 700 MHz band, while taking a longer-term approach to allocations in the 470-694 MHz frequency range.

The 700 MHz band is key to the future development of mobile broadband networks and for achieving the EU's digital agenda targets by 2020.

To drive the development of high-speed networks in Europe, it is important to allow member states that are ready to do so to implement mobile broadband networks in these frequencies starting from 2017/2018. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that the other member states will follow within three years, in line with the principles of the telecoms single market.

In the spirit of compromise, as a first step, the supplemental downlink option could be a reasonable way forward on the 470-694 MHz band. This would allow for the coexistence of traditional broadcasting services in this frequency range with other downlink-only electronic communications services (i.e. base station to end user devices). This option could be used in cases where the demand for digital terrestrial television at a national level is declining, as suggested by the "flexibility option" in the Lamy report.

"In the spirit of compromise, as a first step, the supplemental downlink option could be a reasonable way forward on the 470-694 MHz band"

With regard to international discussions, some important administrations including the United States have already declared their support for primary allocations to mobile services of the 470-698 MHz range in the context of the ongoing preparation for the upcoming World Radio Conference 2015 (WRC-15). This will lead to technical harmonisation work in the future.

We believe that Europe would benefit greatly from participating in this process.

With respect to WRC-15, the EU should therefore consider supporting a co-primary mobile allocation in the 470-694 MHz ranges that would become effective after an agreed number of years.

This would ensure economies of scale for the longer term, allowing Europe to remain at the forefront of mobile communications development by providing necessary spectrum regulations with a sufficiently long lead time, while implementing a viable strategy for the long term.

About the author

Alessandro Casagni is head of EU wireless regulatory policy at Huawei's Milan office

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