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EU sets earlier date for 5G rollout across Europe

9/02/2016 by Robert Graham-Bryce


The European Commission (EC) wants to make 5G a reality by 2020, which means clearing the so-called 700MHz radio frequency band - 694-790 MHz - which is currently used for digital terrestrial TV services like Freeview throughout Europe.

The 2020 target is eighteen months earlier than the UK had planned to rollout 5G services, but the EC argues it is necessary to "reap the socioeconomic benefits" of future services including smart cities, connected cars and "enable the pervasive Internet of Things".

However, this would require the valuable 694-790MHz spectrum to be freed up, with it currently being used for digital TV services, as is the case in the UK. The decision to hand over the spectrum to mobile data services was made following recommendations from a report in September 2014.

The EC plans to move digital TV services to the 470-694MHz band, but broadcasters say the transition won't come cheaply.

"Moving digital terrestrial television [DTT] services out of the 700MHz band by 2020 is a major challenge, in particular for member states where DTT is the main platform to receive television. In Europe, 250 million people receive their television services through DTT," said Nicola Frank, head of European affairs at the European Broadcast Union.

"Broadcasters will need to make costly changes to their infrastructure. Member states should clearly be able to provide compensation for consumers and broadcasters to cater for the investment needed to implement the change."

The EC claims, however, that its proposals will make a "vibrant audio-visual sector as well as the spectrum we will need for 5G".

"I want Europe to lead in 5G. That is why all member states must act by 2020," stressed Günther Oettinger, commissioner for the digital economy and society. The EC has said that member states must publish their plans to handle the digital spectrum shift by 30 June 2017.


Europe, 5G, Iot, Telecoms & Internet

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