TV spectrum to be used for mobile broadband

TV spectrum to be used for mobile broadband

Summary: The European Commission has given countries a two-year target to switch to digital TV and so free up analogue spectrum for wireless broadband

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The European Commission has called on member states to speed up their switchover from analogue to digital television, to free up spectrum for wireless broadband services.

The Commission first announced its intention to set aside the so-called 'digital dividend' spectrum for wireless broadband in 2007. Since then, consultations and industry negotiations have taken place, leading to the proposals set out by the Commission on Wednesday.

"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," information society and media commissioner Viviane Reding said in a statement. "Europe will only make the most of the digital dividend if we work together on a common plan."

Reding called on EU countries to have their digital TV switchovers completed by the start of 2012, and urged national telecoms regulators such as the UK's Ofcom to "use the digital dividend in a pro-competitive way to open up the market for new operators and new services, maximising the impact on the economy".

The Commission also announced plans to harmonise the technical conditions for the spectrum in question — in the 790-862MHz sub-band — across Europe, so users can roam across borders with their web-surfing devices and use the same services.

According to the Commission, successful co-ordination of the digital dividend across Europe will boost the continent's economy by somewhere between €20bn (£18bn) and €50bn over 15 years, and contribute to the goal of offering the whole EU population high-speed broadband by the end of 2013.

Transmissions on the 790-862MHz sub-band, which lies in the UHF band, are of a lower frequency than existing 3G bands, so they can travel over greater distances and penetrate buildings more efficiently. This makes it ideal for rolling out wireless broadband services in rural areas, where operators might be loath to deploy great numbers of access nodes due to low subscriber density.

The Commission said it will try to gain support for its plans from the European Parliament and Council in the first half of 2012, and that it plans "further debate with existing and potential users of the spectrum on longer-term issues" before the proposals are finalised.

The European Parliament has already backed the idea of common spectrum being set aside for wireless broadband services across the continent.

"Ofcom welcomes the Commission's publications on the digital dividend," the UK regulator said in a statement. "This underscores the benefits the use of this spectrum can bring to citizens and consumers in member states across the EU, as first recognised in the UK several years ago. We will now study the detail carefully with the government."

Topics: Broadband, Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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7 comments
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  • Finally...

    Some one is using there noodle.
    CA-aba1d
  • not as good as it seems

    well.. sounds good, ~70 Mhz of spectrum on a band that will travel further than most..

    however for "broadband" speeds you need a 20 MHz channel ideally, so there are only three of these available.. it is harder to define where these signals go as the wavelength means aerials become large..

    Powerful TV transmitters nearby may cause some interesting receiver issues too.

    If they want to trial this though, we would be happy to set it up on a site we have access too. we will even supply the aerial!
    Kijoma-c5d44
  • hmmm got me thinking...

    Don't radio controlled model kits operate around the 20+ MHz spectrum's? If so then that aint going to work. :s
    CA-aba1d
  • erm..

    i meant 20 mhz of bandwidth , not the frequency..

    The other issue they probably have not thought through to well is how will a transmitter/receiver on a roof coexist with a TV receiver that has the same frequency range of acceptance right next to it.. I can see some interesting problems here..
    Kijoma-c5d44
  • haha..

    Ooo my bad :s hehe

    Well from the just of the article i gathered they don't want this to happen until the normal terrestrial signals get switched off, so if this being the case then they hopefully wouldn't be a problem.
    CA-aba1d
  • After reading this article I realized the same thing

    After reading this article I realized the same thing
    anonymous
  • the Analogue terrestial signals

    The digital terrestial signals remain and on the same band..

    It is only the analogue or in american spelling Analog transmitters being shut down.
    Kijoma-c5d44