European Commission wants GSM frequencies open to other wireless services

The European Commission wants the 900 and 1800 MHz bands that are currently reserved for GSM cellular service, to be opened up to other wireless services (for example, services using UMTS technology which operates in the 1900-2025 MHz and 2110-2200 band). The European Commission wants the 900 and 1800 MHz bands that are currently reserved for GSM cellular service, to be opened up to other pan-European wireless services, starting with those using UMTS. The goal is to give people a wider choice of wireless services in these lower frequencies. Download the proposed regulation here.

“Radio spectrum is a crucial economic resource which must be properly managed across Europe to unlock the potential of our telecoms sector,” said Viviane Reding, the EU’s Telecoms Commissioner. “In the EU, we must therefore remove regulatory barriers and facilitate the deployment of mobile communications by allowing new technologies to share spectrum with existing ones. This proposal is a concrete step towards a more flexible market driven approach to spectrum management in Europe. It will increase competition in the use of spectrum bands and enhance accessibility of European citizens to multimedia services.”

Below are excerpts from the European Commission’s press release:

Mobile networks can best operate using low frequency bands, such as the frequency bands used today by GSM mobile phones. In line with the Barroso’s Commission drive for better regulation (see IP/05/96), the Commission proposes to repeal the GSM Directive of 1987. This Directive at the time helped make GSM a success in Europe by allocating certain radio frequencies (900 MHz and 1800 MHz) to GSM services. Today, it is out of date as it prevents more advanced, next generation wireless technologies from using the spectrum currently reserved to GSM services. (Note: the proposed regulation refers to UMTS)

To respond to technological changes and to the emergence of new pan-European communications services, the Commission proposes, together with the repeal of the GSM Directive, a new Decision that will allow new technologies to coexist with GSM in the frequencies of 900 MHz and 1800 MHz, while preserving the continued operation of GSM in the EU.

This new Decision has been prepared by the Commission alongside national radio spectrum experts. Based on technical studies by Europe’s association of spectrum and telecom authorities, CEPT, it aims to ensure harmonious coexistence of the various systems in and around this spectrum band within the European Union and its neighbouring countries.

In the Commission’s assessment, the proposed measures will have a positive economic effect on the sector and promote the take-up of new wireless services. Estimates given by the sector itself suggest that in Europe the wireless communications industry may achieve cumulative capital expenditures reductions of up to 40% in network costs over five years.

The proposed repeal of the GSM Directive requires the formal approval of the European Parliament and EU Council of Ministers. The Decision simply awaits formal adoption of the Commission. All measures proposed are expected to be in place by the end of this year.

For more information: The EU’s Radio Spectrum Policy