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EC pressed to allot 25% of UHF spectrum for mobile broadband

Posted: 07 May 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:UHF spectrum? mobile broadband? Europe mobile market?

Consultancy group Spectrum Value Partners urges European Commission to allocate 25 percent of the UHF band to mobile broadband services to enjoy at least 95 billion Euros ($147 billion) financial boost over the next 20 years.

In a report commissioned by Ericsson, Nokia, Orange, Telefnica and Vodafone, the consultancy, which focuses on communications technologies, analyzes the economic costs and benefits of allocating different quantities of UHF spectrum for mobile broadband and broadcast use throughout Europe.

Although the size of the benefits differ between individual countries within the European Union, the potential 95 billion Euros windfall to the European economy represents additional value specifically associated with the use of the UHF spectrum.

The market researchers suggest this is in addition to the 2.5 trillion Euros ($3.88 trillion) generated by the European mobile industry using other spectrum in the same period between 2008 and 2027. However, they also warn that delaying the release of UHF spectrum by three years would cost Europe 20 billion Euros.

In addition, the study showed with the remainder of the band, broadcasters are expected to generate more than Euros 750 billion for the European economy during the same period.

In its report, Spectrum Value Partners also assumes that all existing free-to-air analogue broadcast TV channels will continue to be provided in either high definition or standard definition formats and finds that the majority of the value which could be created by broadcasters is already provided by existing analogue channels rather than by the launch of new digital-only channels.

Low-cost coverage
A key finding is that much of the value associated with the use of UHF spectrum for mobile services is attributed to providing wider and lower cost broadband coverage.

Together with a 12MHz 'guard band' to prevent interference between mobile broadband and TV services, the mobile industry would need between 40MHz and 140MHz under a wide range of 'plausible demand scenarios'.

The report also suggests that allocating at least 92MHz (including the 'guard band') of UHF spectrum to mobile operatorsa quarter of the total UHF band currently used for the provision of broadcast serviceswould be most likely to maximize additional value for the European economy as a whole.

"This UHF release to mobile will create cheaper broadband services for consumers on the move across Europe and will promote growth in the use of mobile browsing, email and video services. The move will also stimulate jobs and innovation in new companies as entrepreneurs respond to the demand for wireless Web 2.0 services," commented Janice Hughes, CEO of Spectrum Value Partners.

Richard Feasey, public policy director at Vodafone, commented, "The efficient use of the UHF spectrum is vital if Europe is to remain a global leader in both broadcasting and mobile communications in the coming decades. We join the European Parliament and the European Commission in urging Member States to act now."

Feasey added Vodafone intends to ensure the European Commission takes the study into consideration during its Regulatory Impact Assessment, which is expected to begin in a few months. He also suggests that every member state should, separately, conduct such a study. "If we delay further, Europe will pay a heavy price, "he warns.

The U.S. completed an auction of UHF TV radio spectrum in March, this year. So far, only three European countries have developed firm proposals for the digital dividend in Europe.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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