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ECC announces major study to develop a long term vision on UHF frequency band

Copenhagen, 21 June 2013 – The Electronic Communications Committee (ECC), the expert group responsible for harmonising the efficient use of the radio spectrum across Europe, has agreed to set up a major study on the future use of UHF frequencies, with a special focus on the 470-694 MHz band.  At its meeting this week in Toulouse, France, the ECC set up a new Task Group to identify scenarios for the development of this key range of spectrum in the long term, taking into account technical and regulatory aspects in particular, also recognising the economic, social and cultural issues associated with it.  The study should consider the most effective spectrum management framework for its future use.

The 800 MHz band (790-862 MHz) is already changing in use to mobile broadband applications in most of Europe.  Many countries have now conducted auctions and awarded licences to mobile operators. The World Radiocommunication Conference of 2012 (WRC-12) decided to make the adjacent 700 MHz band co-primary between mobile and broadcasting from the end of 2015.  This band (694-790 MHz) is being hotly debated at present, particularly in relation to its possible harmonisation for wireless broadband services.

However, the ECC believes that more detailed analysis is needed across the greater UHF range to gain a deeper understanding of the technical background to the various policy options to better inform the wider debate.

ECC Chairman, Eric Fournier, said: "The ECC wishes to look beyond a piecemeal approach (‘salami-slicing’) to the use of this prime range of spectrum, and to consider options for a more joined-up strategy, especially for the longer term and below 694 MHz.  A particular challenge for us is that the optimum rate of evolution, as well as the ideal longer term equilibrium, is unlikely to be the same throughout Europe."

He added: "The ECC wants this complex policy debate to be fully informed by technical understanding of the relevant issues."

This initiative is intended to inform CEPT’s approach in several key areas of its work, including:

  • its preparations for the next WRC in 2015;
  • the response to the mandate from the European Commission to study certain technical aspects of the use of 700 MHz for mobile radio, and
  • the stated wish of the Commission, driven by similar considerations, to establish an EU policy for the UHF band as a whole.

This new study will be taken forward by a Task Group led by ECC Vice-Chairman, Jaime Afonso, of the Portuguese spectrum regulator, ANACOM.  The ECC expects to complete its work within a year.  As with all ECC working groups, its progress will be reported openly on the ECC website (www.cept.org/ecc), with its presumption of public access to working documents.

Ends

Notes to Editors

1.         The band 470-862 MHz is allocated to broadcasting in the International Radio Regulations, and the band 790-862 MHz is also allocated for mobile. The 790-862 MHz range has been harmonised for use by mobile (i.e. for wireless broadband) throughout Europe, although a few CEPT countries will retain other existing services (TV, and an aeronautical navigation system) for several years yet.  The frequencies below 790 MHz are mainly used in Europe for broadcasting, with some other uses (e.g. wireless microphones) sharing the spectrum on a secondary basis.

2.         The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) decided at WRC-12 that the frequency range 694-790 MHz should also be allocated to mobile services on an equal status to broadcasting.  WRC-15 will also consider making further allocations to mobile.

3.         The technical differences between broadcasting and bi-directional mobile networks make it impractical for neighbouring countries to have different types of service for a long distance from their mutual border.

4.         The new Task Group will be called TG6. The ECC meeting at which this decision was made took place in Toulouse, France, on 18 - 21 June. Further details on this decision and other main issues discussed at the meeting will be available from our website shortly.

5.         The ECC brings together 48 countries to develop common policies and regulations in electronic communications for Europe, and to provide a focal point for information on spectrum use. Its primary objective is to harmonise the efficient use of the radio spectrum, satellite orbits and numbering resources across Europe. Please visit our website for more information: www.cept.org/ecc.

6.         The ECC is supported by its central office, the European Communications Office (ECO), based in Copenhagen, Denmark: www.cept.org/eco.

7.         Follow us on Twitter for updates on our spectrum news @CEPT_ECC.

Contacts:

Jaime Afonso – [email protected],  tel: +351 21 721 22 40
Mark Thomas – [email protected],  tel: +45 33 89 63 01
Bruno Espinosa – [email protected], tel: +45 33 89 63 06

Updated: 21 September 2022, 10:05