European Radio Spectrum Policy

On January 15, the European Parliament accepted on second reading the proposed Radio spectrum policy programme (RSPP), designed to set EU strategy for radio spectrum management up to the year 2015.*

It remains for the PSPP to be officially signed, finalized for publication in the EU Official Journal, and to become effective 20 days later.

The same day that Parliament acted, the European Commission – which had proposed the RSPP originally in September 2010 – issued a press release welcoming the action. The RSPP sets broad policy outlines and directs the EU Member States to take certain actions. Among the hard targets noted in the Commission press release are:

  • By the end of 2012, Member States should have authorised the use of the harmonized bands covering 2.5-2.69 GHz, 3.4-3.8 GHz and 900/1800 MHz, for use by wireless broadband communications, including 3rd & 4th generation mobile communication services.
  • By 1 January 2013, all Member States (unless an individual exemption has been obtained before that date), should have authorised the use of the 800 MHz band (the "digital dividend band" freed up by moving UHF broadcasters) for wireless broadband communications.  One of the main objectives here, says the Commission, is to cover sparsely populated areas.
  • By mid-2013 at the latest, the Commission, in cooperation with Member States, will set out details for an inventory to analyze efficient spectrum use, in the 400 MHz to 6 GHz range, in the EU.  This inventory will form the basis of possible further action on the coordinated allocation of spectrum bands to specific uses, such as wireless broadband.
  • By 2015 at the latest spectrum trading between users in a set of harmonized bands where flexible use has already been introduced should be permitted.

The RSPP sets out EU policy for numerous sectors that use radio spectrum, including public safety services, civil protection, mesh networks, wireless microphones, transport systems, health and many others. Initially labeled a plan for five-years, the delay in adoption means that it will apply from about mid-2012 to the end of 2015.

*The link above is to the version of the RSPP that was approved by the Council of the European Union on November 17, 2011, which became the basis for the Parliament's second reading.  The European Parliament legislative observatory for this item, which shows all stages of its adoption, is contained in the procedure file 2010/0252(COD).

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