Steely Neelie Cracks Spectrum Whip
8:30 AM -- "Steely" Neelie Kroes, the European Commission 's vice president for the Digital Agenda, wants to put Europe's spectrum house in order, and an agreement reached on Friday with representatives from EU member states is a big step toward that goal.
The agreement will require all EU countries to approve the use of the 800MHz frequency for mobile broadband by January 2013, which is important spectrum for Long Term Evolution (LTE) services.
In addition, the new agreement calls for a broad inventory of spectrum use in Europe to determine that it is being used most efficiently and effectively. Following that inventory process, the EC then wants to make at least 1200MHz of spectrum available for wireless broadband across the EU by 2015.
This is a good move to harmonize and free up spectrum in Europe, but it has been a long time coming. The EC first made its spectrum proposals a year ago, and this agreement still needs to be approved by the European Parliament. It's questionable whether this spectrum policy has come soon enough for European mobile operators.
The reality is that as the U.S. and countries in the Asia/Pacific region surge ahead with commercial rollouts of next-generation LTE services, Europe is lagging behind. And European operators are using a patchwork of spectrum for early LTE services – including 2.6GHz, 800MHz, 1800MHz, as well as refarmed 900Hz spectrum. Having so much disparate spectrum in use will cost operators, particularly when it comes to LTE device development, because it will be more expensive and take longer to implement support for all of those bands. (See Europe Set for LTE Laggard Status.)
Steely Neelie's policy is on the right track and the timeline appears bold by Brussels' standards, but will it actually help those European mobile operators that are planning LTE deployments now?
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile