took an important step towards a new generation of mobile services today. The
Council of Ministers followed the European Parliament in approving a proposal
from the European Commission to modernize European legislation – the so-called
GSM Directive – on the use of the radio spectrum needed for mobile services. The
GSM Directive of 1987 reserves the use of part of the 900MHz spectrum band to
GSM (Global System for Mobile, originally Groupe Spécial Mobile) access
technologies such as mobile phones. The updated Directive now allows the 900 MHz
frequency band to be used to provide faster, pan-European services such as
mobile Internet at UMTS and LTE while ensuring the continuation of GSM services.
This new flexibility will foster stronger competition on Europe's telecoms
market and contribute to a more rapid and more widespread roll-out of wireless
broadband services, one of the drivers of economic recovery. Industry savings of
up to 1.6 billion Euro are expected from the reform of the GSM Directive. The
renewed Directive will enter into force this October. The Commission had
proposed the reform of the GSM Directive in parallel to the reform of the EU
Telecoms Rules. The reformed GSM Directive is the first of several important
Directives in the telecoms sector being negotiated where the agreement of
Parliament and Council now paves the way for a stronger wireless economy.
"The GSM standard has been a success story for Europe, where it was born.
By updating the GSM Directive, the EU has paved the way for a new generation
of services and technologies where Europe can be a world leader," said EU
Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding. "I would like to thank the European
Parliament and the Council of Ministers for making this possible by swiftly
agreeing to the reform of this very important piece of telecoms legislation.
This reform will remove constraints on operators so that they can deploy new
technologies in the GSM bands to develop high-speed mobile broadband
services. This should give a welcome boost to Europe's wireless economy and
help trigger the take-off of a Digital Europe."
In November 2008, the European Commission proposed to share the airwaves
allocated to mobile phones with other more advanced technologies, starting with
3G mobile broadband technology (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, UMTS).
The proposal was approved by the European Parliament in May with 578 votes
(MEMO/09/219). With today's final endorsement of the 27 EU Telecoms Ministers,
the reformed Directive can now enter into force. The new rules also make it
easier to adapt spectrum allocation in the 900 MHz frequency band to allow even
newer 4th generation high-speed broadband technologies to be deployed.
Consumers' existing handsets will continue to work without problems, but they
can also use new technologies to access high-speed broadband services. The
reformed Directive will also have a positive economic effect on the sector and
promote the take-up of new wireless services, thanks to reductions in network
costs resulting from the use of lower frequency bands. This will lead to
telecoms industry savings of up to 1.6 billion Euro in capital costs for the
provision of a single Europe-wide network.
The 1987 GSM Directive allocated certain radio frequencies (in the 900 MHz
band) to GSM services. However, the Directive needed to be brought up to date to
allow more advanced, next generation wireless technologies to also use this band
of the radio spectrum.
In November 2008, the Commission responded to the increasing pace of
technological change by proposing to modify the Directive in order to allow new
technologies to co-exist with GSM in the 900 MHz frequencies. The 900 MHz band
will be opened to other systems once the technical possibility of co-existence
with GSM has been established. This will start with UMTS which has already been
shown to be compatible.
Cheers ~ Arne