EU states free up 700MHz band

The European Council has approved plans to free up mobile broadband spectrum in the 700MHz band across the 28-nation bloc to provide faster mobile broadband speeds and improve access to internet services, particularly in remote areas.

The general proposal on a draft decision estimates the rollout of the new services by June 30, 2020. Member states can delay that by up to two years if they have legitimate reasons, such as unresolved coordination issues with neighbouring non-EU countries.  

Other reasons for delay may include needing more time to reallocate the spectrum from broadcasting services.

Broadcasting service will keep priority in the sub-700MHz band until 2030 under the proposal.

The 700MHz band (694-790MHz) penetrates buildings and thick walls with ease is also capable of covering larger geographic areas with less infrastructure compared to frequencies in higher bands.

Henk Kamp, Minister for economic affairs in the Netherlands said: "With the opening of the 700 MHz band for mobile broadband an important step towards the availability of broadband for everybody in the EU has been taken.

The European Parliament will have to approve the proposal before it can become law.

Broadcasting services, will keep priority in the sub-700MHz band 2030.

The GSMA welcomed the proposal but urged member states to stick to 2020 as the "ultimate milestone in the shift to mobile for the 700MHz band".

"Without this commitment, Europe is at risk of falling behind other regions in mobile broadband development," GSMA chief regulatory officer John Giusti said.

The European Commission hopes that planned, co-ordinated allocation of the frequency will aid the speed up of 4G and make it easier to move to 5G.

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