EU wants broadcasters to give up yet more spectrum for broadband

Commissioner also proposes shared spectrum as the way forward

Europe's Digital Agenda Commissioner has told TV broadcasters to free up another 200MHz of spectrum for mobile operators in addition to the 1GHz already available.

Speaking to the Spectrum Management Conference in Brussels on Tuesday, Neelie Kroes admitted that it was an ambitious target and that spectrum "doesn't grow on trees". But as part of the new Radio Spectrum Program, she wants to have at least 1200 MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband by 2015.

"We should start with the spectrum that is already harmonized: already that amounts to over 1000 MHz. I want that to be offered up through spectrum awards by next year, if it's not already done," said Kroes.

Moving broadcasting from high-power networks to low-power Single Frequency Networks would require coordination at a European level and the Commission plans to do a spectrum inventory to look at current use and future demand.

But Kroes said that broadcasters would not be expected to foot the bill for reallocating spectrum alone. "After all, spectrum below 1 Gigahertz is valuable. Mobile operators can hardly expect to get those amazing opportunities for free," she said.

The Commissioner also wants spectrum holders that are under-utilizing their capacity to share with other licensees. She said this would not only give an opportunity for new players to enter the market, but would also also give holders a way to monetize their unused spectrum.

The recently formed European Forum for Spectrum Coexistence said in a statement that it supported the Commission's aims and called for "coexistence among all components of the electromagnetic ecosystem to be included as a key tenet in E.U. rules".

In her speech, the Commissioner also said that she wants to see consensus on the plans announced earlier this year at the World Radio Conference to allocate the 700 MHz band to mobile services alongside broadcasting in the longer term.

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

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