Member States have provided further evidence of why radio spectrum needs to be assigned with greater co-ordination across the European Union. Half the Union’s member states have requested to postpone the use of the 800 MHz band for wireless broadband due to exceptional reasons, missing the 1 January 2013 they had originally agreed to.
The Commission reluctantly granted nine of the 14 requests today. Opening up the 800 MHz band is an essential for expanding use of popular wireless broadband services. European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes said “We have agreed to temporary and limited 800MHz derogations for nine countries. This is a pragmatic and final concession. Every delay in releasing spectrum hurts our economy and frustrates citizens. That is why spectrum reform will be a centrepiece of the Commission’s September proposal for a telecoms single market.”
One consequence of Member State delays is that phones considered to be essential devices by citizens are not fully functional in Europe. Phone manufacturers leave out the appropriate radio chips needed to connect in Europe because not enough countries have licensed the same spectrum on time. The Commission has agreed to postponements for: Spain, Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Poland, Romania and Finland; it refused derogations for Slovakia and Slovenia where the delays were due to the organisation of the authorisation process and not to exceptional circumstances preventing the availability of the band. Greece, Latvia and the Czech Republic require additional evaluation. Belgium and Estonia were late but have not asked for a derogation, while Bulgaria has notified the continued use of the band for public security and defence purposes. Here to read more.