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Will Sharing Ease Spectrum Shortage?

Michelle Donegan
Wireless Bits
Michelle Donegan

8:15 AM -- Neelie Kroes, the European Commission 's vice president for the Digital Agenda, wants national regulators to adopt new rules for spectrum sharing in Europe to avert a looming spectrum shortage. (See EC Proposes Spectrum Sharing Rules.)

And she really means it:

"Radio spectrum is economic oxygen, it is used by every single person and business," Kroes said. "If we run out of spectrum then mobile networks and broadband won't work. That is unacceptable, we must maximise this scarce resource by re-using it and creating a single market out of it."

And she added: "We need a single market for spectrum in order to regain global industrial leadership in mobile and data, to attract more R&D investments."

The new spectrum-sharing proposal is the first initiative of the EC's wide-ranging, five-year radio spectrum policy program, which was adopted in February this year. The program's specific policy targets are listed here, but one of them calls for an EU-wide inventory of spectrum use between 400MHz and 6GHz, for example. With spectrum sharing, the EC wants to make it easier for wireless operators or other entities to get access to unlicensed and licensed spectrum for myriad wireless data applications, such as Wi-Fi access, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, wireless sensors and smart grid networks.

The spectrum policy is certainly a step in the right direction for freeing up more frequencies for new services and applications, but it's only one step.

If spectrum is like oxygen, as Kroes suggests (and mobile operators would agree), then it's more important than ever that national regulators don't block the flow by being too slow to adopt new policies that would enable more flexible use of spectrum in a consistent way across the EU.

But the EC's proposal also raises a big question: How keen are mobile operators on sharing their spectrum holdings with competitors, anyway?

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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12/5/2012 | 5:22:11 PM
re: Will Sharing Ease Spectrum Shortage?

I can't figure out how spectrum sharing would provide any relief in areas that already are suffering from traffic congestion. It makes more sense in sparsely populated areas, but the main beneficiaries would be low-end competitors.

Mr Finance
Mr Finance
12/5/2012 | 5:22:09 PM
re: Will Sharing Ease Spectrum Shortage?
Nellie is normally a smart lady, but this one mystifies me too. Headline is spectrum sharing, but content of story seems to be about spectrum trading. If it is spectum sharing then maybe she's just saying she supports white spaces type initiatives? Fair enough, but Regulators need to walk a very fine line there between consumer utility and giving a free lunch to the low end players and fixed only players.
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