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REGULATION: EU opens 2G GSM frequencies for 3G UMTS
Posted by Arne Hess - on Thursday, 22.10.09 - 11:02:42 CET under 01 - General News - Viewed 12341x
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So far, in Europe UMTS was commercially allowed to use the 2100 MHz spectrum only but this could change soon. This week, the European Union has cleared the way for a new generation of mobile services in Europe that allow 3G phones (2100 MHz) to use GSM frequencies (900 and 1800 MHz). This follows the European Parliament and Council of Ministers' agreement in July, to modernize European legislation - the GSM Directive from 1987 - on the use of the radio spectrum needed for mobile services.

The new EU measures will foster stronger competition on Europe's telecoms market and make it easier for operators to provide faster, pan-European services such as mobile Internet alongside today's GSM services. They will also boost the roll-out of wireless broadband services, one of the drivers of the EU's economic recovery.

"In harsh economic times, Europe's mobile industry got today a clear signal of strong support from policy makers. The new EU rules published today allow the re-farming of the radio spectrum in the GSM band for new mobile services, strengthen competition and save the mobile industry up to € 1.6 billion in capital costs," said Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms Commissioner." With decisions like this, Europe ensures that we will keep our competitive edge in wireless services."

The new EU rules form part of the European Commission efforts to offer more spectrum opportunities for wireless communications. The measures published this week open the 2G GSM radio spectrum band to more advanced wireless communication devices (aka 3G with UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA). A new Decision and a Directive modernizing the 1987 GSM Directive, have been printed in the EU's Official Journal, becoming EU law and must now be applied in all 27 EU countries.

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 rules are expected to 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.

The new Commission Decision sets out the technical parameters allowing for the co-existence of GSM (2G mobile phones) and UMTS systems (3G phones that add high-speed mobile Internet to regular phone services) on GSM 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies in line with the Directive. This Decision is based on the EU's Radio Spectrum Decision that sets up a mechanism for the adoption of technical harmonization rules based on input received from national radio frequency experts.

National administrations have now six months to transpose the Directive and to implement the Decision so that the GSM spectrum bands are effectively made available for 3G. When opening up the existing GSM licenses, national regulators will have to examine competition between mobile operators and address distortions of competition if any, in accordance with the EU's telecoms rules . The Decision foresees the possibility of amendments to include technical usage parameters for further non GSM systems for which compatibility may be established at a later stage.

At the end of the day it could mean that European users will need dualband GSM (900 and 1800 MHz) and triband UMTS (900, 1800 and 2100 MHz) mobile phones to get the full access to networks. This comes in addition to further frequencies as needed for international roaming (800, 1700, 1900 MHz). On the other hand will a 900 MHz UMTS roll-out help to spread the 3G coverage to rural areas.

Cheers ~ Arne

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