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GSMA Calls on the European Commission to Adopt a Long-Term Vision for the Future of the UHF Spectrum

Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA commented on today’s release of a report to the European Commission on the future use of the UHF spectrum band (470-790MHz). Pascal Lamy, President of Notre Europe, produced the report in his role as chair of the High Level Group, which consists of top executives from Europe's mobile operators, broadcasters, the wireless microphone community, network operators and technology associations.

“We appreciate the European Commission’s efforts to address the future of this important spectrum and welcome the call for the 700MHz band to be repurposed for mobile broadband in the European Union by 2020,” said Ms. Bouverot. “To close the gap with North America and Asia, we believe it is essential that Member States have flexibility to move sooner, preferably between 2018 and 2020 and potentially earlier, to respond to the sustained growth in mobile data traffic1 and the dramatic change in the way citizens across Europe are watching news and entertainment content, relying more and more on the Internet to access programming.”

“We are concerned that the report’s recommendations on the sub-700MHz (470-694MHz) band could put Europe at a competitive disadvantage compared to other regions. Limiting Europe’s flexibility on the possible co-existence of mobile and digital broadcast services until 2030 will discourage investment in world-leading mobile networks. Predictable, timely and affordable access to spectrum is an essential element for driving Europe's economic growth and job prospects, delivering significant socio-economic benefits for businesses and individuals.

“We do think the ‘flexibility option’ proposed by Mr. Lamy, which would potentially allow some mobile downlink connectivity in traditional broadcast spectrum, merits additional analysis. However, we urge the European Commission to accelerate the review process of the sub-700 MHZ band that has been suggested by Mr. Lamy, which would be undertaken no later than 2025 in any event. An earlier review would allow some Member States the ability to meet the needs of the rapidly evolving media and mobile communications markets in the longer term. We suggest that the following changes will safeguard the future of both mobile and broadcast services:

1. Request an early review of the sub-700MHz band no later than 2020, instead of 2025, to ensure that Europe can respond to the rapidly evolving mobile and media markets; and

2. Support a co-primary allocation2 between broadcast and mobile services for the sub-700MHz band at the World Radiocommunication Conference-2015, should a Member State propose it, to provide flexibility for national decisions.

“We respectfully ask the European Commission to adopt a long-term strategy for the sub-700MHz band that allows individual Member States to decide whether to keep traditional broadcast services in the spectrum or to provide more spectrum for mobile broadband to expand social and economic opportunity throughout Europe.”

Notes to Editors

1 Source: Ericsson Mobile Report: http://www.ericsson.com/mobility-report. Summary: Global mobile data traffic is expected to increase tenfold between 2013 and 2019: The amount of spectrum national governments allow mobile operators to use will be rapidly exhausted by this growing demand for bandwidth-hungry services. The type and amount of spectrum used to deliver services directly impacts the speed, capacity and reach of mobile broadband services making additional spectrum vital in order to meet long-term data demand. GSMA estimates that an additional 600-800MHz of spectrum (which includes the 700MHz band) will be needed in Europe by 2020 in order to address the clear trend in data demand.

2 The ITU designates allocations as ‘primary’ when the service has priority use of the band and ‘co-primary’ where there are several services that can use the band.

About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with 250 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com. Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.

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