Delays in freeing up 800MHz 'are slowing EU 4G market'

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4G deployments across Europe are being hindered by delays in assigning 800MHz spectrum, the European Commission has claimed.

In a report exploring the European telecoms market, the EC said operators were missing out on a "digital dividend" of deploying LTE at 800MHz, which has greater penetration into buildings.

It said only 21 EC member states have assigned LTE to the 800MHz band and warned: "Delays in assignment of the 800MHz band are the main obstacle to 4G development."

Across Europe, 1800MHz remains the most popular choice of spectrum to launch LTE, with 4G running on the 2.6GHz band across 19 members states. At 800MHz, 15 member states have launched LTE.

The EC also attacked the disparity between markets in rolling out new mobile networks. It said: "The time needed to obtain permits to roll-out new networks ranges from a few days to years depending on where in the EU you are building the network. Most authorities still do not allow for electronic submission of requests."

It also criticised the authorities in Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Luxembourg, Malta and Poland for their "fragmented, complex and cumbersome" approaches to letting companies have access to passive telecoms infrastructure.

Vice-President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes said: "We are clearly still a long way from a real single market. We need to cut red tape and we need more consistent regulatory action at both national and EU levels to build up that single market."

Other findings in the report included how the continuing surge in data usage and how traditional telephony services were being hit by the increasing ubqiuity of voice over IP services.

Revenues fell by just over three percent but the report found that investment had increased by just over one percent to €42.1 billion.

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