Every European Digital?

Can spectrum bring broadband to every European citizen? Probably not!
| Richard Womersley

I count myself privileged to have been speaking at the Every European Digital conference in Brussels this week ( alongside such industry denizens as Commissioner Neelie Kroes and the US Ambassador to the EU William Kennard (formerly chairman of the FCC).

The topic I was asked to address was ‘Can spectrum provide the answer?’ in this case meaning the answer to Europe’s stated objectives to bring high speed broadband to every citizen.  My simple answer was ‘no’, but it might help a little.

A recent study conducted for Ofcom which showed LTE being just over 3 times more spectrally efficient than UMTS means that technology will, if we assume mobile data doubling each year, provide room for about 18 months growth.

If regulators manage to find an additional 500 MHz of spectrum to add to the 500 MHz or so already available in most EU countries (such as is being proposed in Sweden, the UK and by several other regulators), this will deal with another 12 months of  data growth.

So where is the rest of the growth going to go?  The answer is most likely in infrastructure. New cell sites are needed, but this will be difficult against a backdrop where operators are trying to consolidate their site portfolio to have less sites, but of higher quality.

The same is probably true of spectrum.  Operators would rather have a consolidated set of quality spectrum assignments rather than bit of spectrum real estate scattered hither and thither. And it’s equally important to remember that all wireless networks, whether terrestrial or satellite, need secure access to spectrum.

So, ‘can spectrum provide the answer’?  Not really, but it is definitely an essential part of the solution.

The full text of my conference speech is available on the Helios web-site:

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