Spectrum regulation is not keeping up with the pace of convergence, according to the European Commission — and it's time for change.
Viviane Reding, information society and media commissioner, has introduced a plan for better use of radio spectrum. According to a new proposal filing, called a Communication, innovative mobile services are being held up by the reservation of spectrum for narrowly defined uses.
The Communication noted: "The ability to provide a combination of broadcasting, mobile and broadband offerings to the consumer in a wireless environment could be hampered if network operators are not treated equally with regard to their access to a specific spectrum band and to the authorisation conditions to which it is subject."
Under the proposal, the Commission will examine some bands where regulation can be removed and agree on rights and authorisation conditions to apply to those bands. The conditions are expected to be agreed this year.
The Commission will also put an end to the practice of reserving spectrum for a single purpose, such as mobile. Constraints on usage will remain, however, in order to prevent interference.
Reding said the regulatory environment will begin to loosen up but added that spectrum hunters might be in for a long wait. "We seek to provide new opportunities for industry through less restrictive regulatory conditions that strengthen competition and increase consumer choice. However, this is a gradual process which will not happen overnight," she said in a statement.
A new regulatory framework on spectrum management is expected to come into force across Europe in 2010.