The European Commission (EC) has called upon all EU member states, including the United Kingdom, to open up the 2GHz radio spectrum band (1920-1980MHz paired with 2110-2170MHz) for use by 4G (LTE) superfast mobile broadband services by 30th June 2014 “at the latest“.
At present all of the UK’s primary mobile operators hold paired 2 x 10.0MHz blocks of the related 2100MHz spectrum, which is currently used for the provision of slower 3G (UMTS, HSPA etc.) based Mobile Broadband services; although both Vodafone (2 x 14.8MHz) and Three UK (2 x 14.6MHz) retain a slightly larger slice than their rivals.
The EU’s harmonised liberalisation of the 2GHz band will make it mandatory for member states to ensure that 1920-1980MHz paired with 2110-2170MHz is now also available for use by the new generation of 4G services. The fact that all of the major operators already own a reasonable slice of this spectrum should limit any of the usual legal disagreements that can often arise from such changes.
Neelie Kroes, EC Vice President, said:
“This extra spectrum for 4G in Europe means we can better meet the changing and growing demand for broadband. I want to see Member States acting swiftly to change existing licenses. We all win from faster wireless connections in Europe.”
The EC claims that “these technologies are increasingly capable of offering 30Mbps [Megabits per second] to many users at the same time” and can do so at a “competitive price“. In addition the commission said that it was also considering a “follow-up measure” on the unpaired terrestrial 2GHz spectrum (1900-1920 MHz and 2010-2025 MHz), which is already allocated to use by UMTS networks but remains “unused throughout the EU“.