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Industry backs TV-to-broadband spectrum switch, with reservations

The broadcasting and creative industries have backed European Commission plans to hand over radio spectrum from its current use in broadcasting to use for mobile data services, but have expressed reservations about some of the plan's detail.11 Jun 2015

The Commission's Lamy report of September 2014 proposed that the ultra high frequency (UHF) 700MHz band of spectrum be handed over for broadband use by 2020, plus or minus two years. It is currently used for television broadcast signals and wireless microphone systems.

A public consultation into the Lamy report has found that while the majority of stakeholders agree with its proposals, there are reservations over measures to mandate the use of specific technologies and over download-only use of spectrum below 700MHz. The report recommended that the spectrum below 700MHz should not be changed until 2030.

Although respondents expressed general support to promote spectrum-efficient technologies for digital terrestrial television equipment, most rejected mandatory measures to use a specific technology, the Commission said.

The "vast majority" of respondents also did not agree with a proposed flexible downlink-only use of the spectrum below 700MHz. Some cited a potential lack of compatibility with digital terrestrial television, while others said it was too restrictive and asked for the inclusion of uplink services to allow full internet access services, the Commission said.

The Commission said that a majority of  the 356 individuals and organisations agreed that a coordinated EU approach will be useful, believing that it will reduce fragmentation in the market and help to establish standards for receivers.

"A vast majority of mobile operators and equipment manufacturers additionally finds EU coordination crucial for the co-existence of the digital terrestrial television and wireless broadband in cross-border territories," it said.

Contributors from cultural and creative industries also suggested that regulatory coordination will help to ensure continuity of digital terrestrial television below the MHz band. They were generally in favour of a proposed review of developments in the broadcasting and wireless broadband services market, possibly around 2025, it said.

Cultural and creative industries respondents asked for clear guidance on what funding and financial resources will be available to cover the costs of transition from, and clearance of, the spectrum, the Commission said

Electronics manufacturers, meanwhile, urged the EU to promote industry collaboration to reduce delays and costs, it said

The Commission has now launched a study to gather further data on the costs and benefits of the transition, and is working with member states to establish a common position in time for the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015, which will be held in Geneva in November. It will make proposals on the coordinated release of the 700MHz band based on its digital single market strategy, it said.

Ofcom set out the UK's position on spectrum allocation in January, preparing the negotiating position it plans to adopt at the Geneva conference