The Council today adopted a decision which will ensure the release of high-quality airwaves for wireless broadband services in all EU member states in order to boost mobile connectivity and drive the roll-out of 5G technology. The coordinated use of the 700 MHz band, which offers high speeds and excellent coverage, will allow for faster and better internet connections across Europe. This will reduce the digital divide and make it possible to develop and offer new innovative digital services such as connected cars or eHealth, not just in urban but also in rural and remote areas.

As a result of this decision, mobile operators will obtain exclusive access to the 700 MHz band (694-790 MHz) by 30 June 2020. This timeframe coincides with the expected deployment of 5G networks in Europe. Member states may, however, delay this reallocation by up to two years, but only in duly justified cases set out in the decision.

The 700 MHz band is part of the 470-790 MHz range that is currently widely used for digital television broadcasting and wireless microphones at various events. To ensure that there is adequate spectrum available for the audio-visual sector even after the upper part of the range has been repurposed, broadcasting services will stay a priority in the sub-700 MHz band (470-694 MHz) at least until 2030, based on national needs. Member states will have the option of using this range for other purposes, including mobile internet services, as long as this is compatible with broadcasting needs.

All EU countries must set out an implementation plan for this reassignment by the end of June 2018.

“Opening the 700 MHz band for mobile internet helps ensure top-quality connectivity throughout Europe and can really transform many people’s lives – let’s think for example of the use of telemedicine in remote areas,” said Dr Emmanuel Mallia, the Maltese Minister for Competitiveness and Digital, Maritime and Services Economy. “It also represents a major step in the industrial shift to 5G, which is essential for the future competitiveness of the EU.”

Next steps

This final vote by the Council concludes the procedure at first reading. The European Parliament voted on 15 March 2017. The legal act will be signed by both institutions in mid-May and published in the EU Official Journal on 30 May. It will enter into force 20 days after its publication.

Source: European Council

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By Expat