Proposals for 700MHz show EU is learning from past mistakes, claims GSMA

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Progress on harmonising the 700MHz band for mobile usage could help Europe catch up on other continents and avoid mistakes made with 800MHz, the GSMA has claimed.

Chief Regulatory Officer John Giusti made the comments after the European Council this week backed attempts by the EU to carve out the spectrum for mobile use.

Under the proposals, announced in February, member states have until 30 June 2017 to set out how they will allocate the 700MHz band to operators by 30 June 2020.

Work has already started, with auctions taking place in France and Germany last year. Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom are expected to follow in the coming years.

While the proposals need to be adopted by the European Parliament before they can become law, the GSMA said the Council's backing showed a "proactive and rapid" approach to decision making.

However, Giusti said it was vital that issues surrounding cross border coordination and the publication of national plans are resolved by the end of next year.

He accepted the timings in releasing the spectrum might vary, but said sticking to the proposed deadlines would learn from mistakes in the past.

He said: "Such action will help to avoid repeating the difficulties seen in the release of the 800MHz band in Europe. If not released in a coordinated manner, mobile ‘dead zones’ can arise, affecting border regions between Member States and negatively impacting consumers."

As part of the proposals, audio-visual services will have priority in the sub-700MHz band. This band could also be opened to dynamic spectrum use, with companies allowed to access spectrum that is not being used.

Giusti described this as a "limited step in the right direction". He added: "Allowing for genuine regulatory flexibility in a timely manner can allow Europe to keep pace with spectrum allocations in other regions, including North America, where regulators have started the auction process for a paired, uplink and downlink use of the 600MHz band."