Boost for wireless in Europe as more spectrum is made available

EU Parliament approves Radio Spectrum Policy Program

Wireless broadband got a boost in Europe when the European Parliament on Wednesday voted in favor of reallocating radio spectrum frequencies.

The new rules form the Radio Spectrum Policy Program (RSPP) -- a set of guidelines drawn up by the European Commission. Although the allocation of radio frequencies is a matter for national authorities, member states have approved the new rules in order to further the digital single market, a unified market for all digital services across Europe.

According to the deal, the 800MHz band, currently used for analog TV, should be made available for wireless broadband services in all European Union countries by January 2013. This so called "digital dividend" will become available as TV across Europe goes digital. According to the Commission, this will help to accommodate "exponential growth in the use of wireless broadband services." One of the main objectives is also to cover sparsely populated areas.

"The RSPP will optimize the use of frequencies to the benefit of all users of smartphones and other mobile digital platforms," said Gunnar Hökmark, the Swedish parliamentarian who steered the legislation through Parliament.

RSPP will allow sufficient spectrum to be made available for services such as high-speed 4G wireless broadband, mobile TV, wireless electronic books, transport systems, civil protection, smart energy grids and smart metering systems.

At Parliament's request, at least 1200MHz should also be allocated to mobile data traffic by 2015. Furthermore, the Commission will also assess whether there is a need to harmonize additional spectrum bands in the 400MHz to 6GHz range in order to manage the exponential growth in wireless data traffic.

The European wireless electronic communications industry supports an estimated 3.5 million jobs, generates 2.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product and represents about €250 billion (US$328 billion) of economic activity each year in Europe.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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