On the 26 May the Council agreed plans to free up the 700 MHz band for mobile broadband services by 2020. The 700 MHz band is just one of those in hot demand, but some countries have long terms license agreements in place making any change difficult to organise. Other countries are racing ahead and may well beat the deadline. Further confusing the timing issue, in exceptional circumstances, such as unresolved harmful interferences or cross-border coordination problems, an extension of two years may be considered. But one way or another, the clock is ticking.
According to the European Commission, “the modernisation of spectrum management is aimed at facilitating spectrum access through more flexibility in usage conditions and market-led mechanisms to manage spectrum usage rights, such as spectrum trading, as well as by introducing more efficient or intelligent technologies that can share frequencies and the well targeted re-allocation/re-
Meanwhile the European Commission is on target to deliver proposals for reforming the EU telecom regulatory framework in September. Some indication of the direction the Commission will take may be seen in the recent e-commerce and audiovisual sector proposals, but achieving a true level playing field for all the various players in the sector will be a challenge. As with the platforms question, the Commission may well decide to avoid “one size fits all” regulation. However the rules were last updated in 2009 – a lifetime ago in tech terms.
With some countries racing ahead with licensing the 700MHz frequencies, notably France and Germany, is there a risk of a two-tier Europe? Is the 2020 target realistic? How can the difficulties seen in the release of the 800MHz band be avoided in the future? Are we likely to see resistance from Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) providers? In what situations might shared frequency allocations work? How much is spectrum allocation tied to investment? Are wholesale access obligations limiting or expanding options for consumers? Should network coverage levels be mandated by law? If investment is a problem, how could the costs of mobile network deployment be reduced? Do consumers care about net neutrality?
Counsellor Economic Affairs Telecom and Better Regulation, Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU
Stefan Koreneef is Attaché for Telecom, Digital Agenda and Postal at the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU since 2013. Before joining the Permanent Representation he was Head of Unit at the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Netherlands, responsible for the coordination of international ICT policy and Better Regulation from 2011. From 2008-2011, he was project manager for several telecom and ICT policy projects, such as spectrum auctions and national Digital Agenda.nl, at the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
Head of Unit for Spectrum Policy in DG CONNECT
Andreas Geiss is Head of Unit for Spectrum Policy in DG CONNECT of the European Commission. He has been working for the European Commission since 2002 in various positions. His responsibilities included mobile communications, the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme and negotiations with the Member States in different settings. Before joining the European Commission he worked for the European Radiocommunications Office (ERO), where he was project leader for projects dealing with terrestrial and satellite communications and setting up the ECO Frequency Information System (EFIS). He has been involved in the European preparations for World Radiocommunications Conferences since 1995. Andreas holds a Master’s degree in electrical engineering and started his professional career in 1991 at the German Regulatory Authority in the area of telecommunications.
Gunnar Hökmark MEP
Gunnar Hökmark is a Swedish member of the European Parliament and the leader of the Swedish delegation to the EPP group. Joining the parliament in 2004, he serves as a member on the committee of Economic and Monetary affairs and the special committee of Tax Rulings, as well as a substitute on the committee on Industry, Research and Energy. Before joining the European Parliament, he was a member of the Swedish parliament from 1982 to 2004, and the party secretary of the Swedish Moderate Party from 1991 to 2000. Mr Hökmark is currently EPPs shadow rapporteur on the report on the use of the Ultra High Frequency band, which deals with the issue of the allocation of the 470-790 MHz frequency band. He has previously been the rapporteur on the Radio Spectrum Policy Program, where he succeeded to get support for opening up the 800 MHZ band to electronic communication.
Head of Office, GSMA Europe
Laszlo Toth is the Head of Office of GSMA Europe, which is the European arm of the GSM Association – the global body that represents the worldwide mobile communications industry. In this capacity Laszlo is responsible for the day-to-day running of the GSMA’s Brussels office. He works closely with members to facilitate coordinated advocacy efforts at the EU level in order to create a policy environment that maximizes the mobile industry’s ability to invest in infrastructure and drive economic growth. Laszlo started his professional career working at telecoms operators. Prior to joining GSMA in 2011, he spent nine years at the Hungarian public administration, including spells at the Ministry responsible for ICT and at the national telecoms regulator. Laszlo has an MSc. in economics and holds a degree in computer sciences.
Moderated by leading TECH journalist Jennifer Baker.