5G and Beyond

Eurobites: EU Preps for 5G With Spectrum Sort-Out

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Privacy Shield replaces Safe Harbor; MTN hires former US attorney-general for legal battle; business-sector weakness hits KPN.

  • The European Commission has proposed a unified spectrum strategy, partly to pave the way for 5G services across the region. The proposal is made up of two elements: In the 700MHz band, it plans to draw up a common schedule for making the spectrum available for wireless broadband use "under harmonized technical conditions," with a commitment to assign the 700MHz band to wireless broadband across member states by June 30, 2020 at the latest; and in the sub-700MHz band it wants to prioritize the use of the spectrum for the "distribution of audiovisual media services," both online and through traditional TV platforms such as digital terrestrial television (DTT). (See EC Proposes Unified Spectrum Strategy for 5G , Euronews: 5G Ahoy! and Spectrum Muddle at the 5G Huddle.)

  • Elsewhere in the European Commission's corridors of power, EC apparatchiks have agreed on a new framework for transatlantic data transfers, replacing the discredited Safe Harbor arrangements. The so-called EU-US Privacy Shield is intended to place stronger obligations on US companies handing Europeans' personal data, limit US government access to such data and provide EC citizens affected by such issues with greater chance of redress. However, Max Schrems, the Austrian privacy activist whose legal action over the fate of his Facebook data was largely responsible for the collapse of Safe Harbor, is less than impressed: "With all due respect," he writes in a response statement, "but a couple of letters by the outgoing Obama administration is by no means a legal basis to guarantee the fundamental rights of 500 million European users in the long run, when there is explicit US law allowing mass surveillance." (See Eurobites: 'Safe Harbor' Heads for Calmer Waters.)

  • African operator MTN Group Ltd. has decided to wheel out the legal big guns in its fight to get its humongous $3.9 billion fine from the Nigerian government reduced. As the Financial Times reports (subscription required), it has engaged the services of Eric Holder, the former US attorney-general, to challenge the fine, which was imposed for MTN's failure to disconnect unregistered mobile phone subscribers. (See MTN to Challenge $3.9B Fine in Nigerian Court.)

  • Declining business revenues hit overall numbers in KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN)'s fourth quarter, with revenues declining 5.4% year-on-year to €1.74 billion ($1.9 billion) and EBITDA plummeting 19% to €578 million ($633 million). In a statement, CEO Eelco Blok said: "We are rationalizing and standardizing the Business organization to deliver an improvement in customer satisfaction."

  • Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) have completed a trial of LTE Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA), which, like rival technology LTE-Unlicensed, aggregates licensed and unlicensed spectrum bands to extend coverage and network capacity. The over-the-air experiment took place at Qualcomm's campus in Nuremberg, Germany over a period of three weeks. (See Vodafone Plots Unlicensed Boost to 4G.)

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) suffered a major outage on Tuesday, which resulted in "several hundred thousand" customers losing their broadband connection, reports the BBC. Several of the UK's major cities were affected, including London, Glasgow, Birmingham and Sheffield. BT blamed a faulty router for the trouble.

  • Russian operators VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP) and MegaFon are embarking on a joint project to develop basestations and share LTE network development and operations across ten Russian regions. The launch of the joint network is scheduled for the second quarter of this year.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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