Spectrum issues not resolved, holding Europe back, claims EU

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Europe is no closer to agreeing how to harmonise spectrum, a European Union lawmaker has claimed.

Andrus Ansip, who is leading the shift towards the single market at the European Commission, said the distribution of spectrum across 28 "fractured" markets remained an unresolved problem.

Brussels has made spectrum harmonisation a key part of its Digital Single Market reform, the latest iteration of which was unveiled in May.

Ansip said an upcoming review, which is asking for responses until 9 December, is "probably" the last chance to resolve the spectrum issue.

He said: "Coordinating spectrum will help to attract investment into access and make the next 5G mobile communications generation a success."

A common approach is needed, Ansip argued, to allocate spectrum efficiently and enable network coverage.

[Read more - Ansip talks up cross border M&A, says network sharing could replace consolidation]

His comments were backed by Günther H. Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, who said more needed to be done to enable ubiquitous coverage. 

He said he wanted to lift barriers to investment, while protecting competition across the continent, as well as ensuring money is there to fund the roll out of mobile broadband in circumstances where it is not financially viable for telcos.

He said: "An ambitious spectrum policy is fundamental in creating growth and investment stimulating the digital single market. In this context, 5G will be key for mobile networks in the relatively near future, and we need spectrum coordination mechanisms in place in Europe to ensure its proper and efficient roll-out."

He said: "We have to find ways to streamline the technical harmonisation process, which is currently extremely resource- and time-consuming. We have to render it more efficient and objective. This is paramount, if Europe (again) wants to be the starting point of a wireless revolution that will shape the future."

The comments come as the future allocation of spectrum is being hammered out at the World Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva. Telcos are just one of the sectors arguing for fresh spectrum.