This week the European Commission announced a forthcoming workshop
on the use of sub-700 MHz band spectrum in the EU.
According to the agenda, the Commission is interested in knowing about international developments in the band (i.e. mobile broadband), as well as the evolution of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and Program Making and Special Events (PMSE), which both use the band at the moment.
But why would they want to know about that?
As we set out in a recent research note
, the international Radio Regulations for the 470 - 960 MHz band for Region 1 (Africa, Europe and the Middle East) will be reviewed at WRC-23. For some African and Middle Eastern countries, this is seen as an opportunity to introduce mobile services in the "beachfront" low-band spectrum below 694 MHz. The former countries of the Soviet Union, however, oppose any change.
Europe is stuck in the middle. In some countries, like the UK and Italy, much of its population rely on DTT for audiovisual content, but in others, such as the Netherlands and Finland, it is hardly used at all. Germany's new government wants
to protect the DTT and PMSE in the band, although its spectrum agency supports a flexible arrangement so as not to limit other countries' options.
How will this circle be squared?
If past WRCs are a guide, its resolution may be part of some grand (and fragile) political compromise, possibly involving some unrelated topics and also putting off difficult decisions to some future conference. The last time this band was under discussion, on a mobile broadband (IMT) agenda item for the 600 MHz band at WRC-15, the compromise was to set up an agenda item for the topic in Region 1 eight years later, and to let a handful of other countries identify IMT in the band through footnotes.
With over 18 months to go until the conference, the future of the band in Europe and Region 1 in general, remains mysterious.
More information about this and the other agenda items, is available in our new WRC-23 Dossier
, available to Spectrum Research Service subscribers.