Opening 700MHz to operators tops Digital Single Market agenda, says Brussels

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Freeing up 700MHz spectrum for operators' use will be one of the European Commission's priorities for the Digital Single Market in 2016, according to an EC vice-president.

Andrus Ansip, who is responsible for leading the Digital Single Market initiative within the EC, said lawmakers across the continent needed to move quickly to bring about a fully digital economy.

The first priority was ensuring operators can take advantage of the 700MHz band. The low frequency band is seen as a vital plank in offering harmonised global services. 

Late last year, the World Radiocommunication Conference ruled that use of the 700MHz band should be extended to operators outside of North and South America and Asia. The frequency was formerly the domain of broadcasters.

The European Commission is planning to issue a package of proposals for the telecoms industry during the spring, which will include reforms for the cloud market and ICT standards, as well as 700MHz spectrum.

Looking ahead, Ansip said he also wanted to explore reforming Europe's telecoms laws, online security and promoting the "free flow of data". He said a proposed e-commerce package should deal with "unjustified geoblocking". He said: "I firmly believe that people and businesses should not be restrained by barriers when they shop or sell online."

He added: "Of course, nothing will – or can – happen overnight. But it is important now to get things moving: if these proposals are to become reality, especially before the end of this Commission's five-year term in office, speed is of the essence. In addition, the digital economy is not going to wait for us."