Category Archives: Radiofrequencies

Radio frequencies allow images, sound and information to be transmitted over large distances by radio waves. They are the basis of mobile communications. European companies are among the largest global players in this sector. This success is largely explained by the development of a European GSM technical standard. Around two billion people now use mobile phones complying with the European GSM standard.

In order to support the internal market for wireless services and to promote innovation in electronic communications, the European Union plans to regulate and coordinate the use of the radio spectrum.

Information Society

Information Society

Information Society Contents

  • Current general legal framework: Regulatory framework. Competition.
  • Digital Strategy, i2010 Strategy, eEurope Action Plan, Digital Strategy Programmes: Digital Strategy. I2010 Strategy and eEurope Action Plans. Programmes.
  • Internet, Online activities and ICT standards: Internet and Online activities. Fight against illegal online activities. Network security and information system. Coordination and standardisation.
  • Data protection, copyright and related rights: Data protection. Copyright and related rights in the information society.
  • Radiofrequencies: Mobile communications. Radio spectrum.
  • Interaction of the information society with certain policies: The use of ITC for road safety. The use of ITC for electronic commerce. The use of ITC for payment systems. The use of ITC for research. The use of ITC for public health.
  • Enlargement: Ongoing enlargement. Enlargement of January 2007. Enlargement of May 2004.

See also

Overviews of European Union: Information technology.
Further information: Communications Networks, Contents and Technology Directorate-General of the European Commission.

Roaming on public mobile telephone networks

Roaming on public mobile telephone networks

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Roaming on public mobile telephone networks

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Roaming on public mobile telephone networks

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 717/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2007 on roaming on public mobile communication networks within the Community and amending Directive 2002/21/EC.

Summary

In the effort to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market, the European Commission supports a significant reduction in the price consumers pay to make international roaming calls, SMS * and data roaming services. Until now, the structure of the market and the cross-border nature of the services prevented national regulatory authorities from solving the problem of high charges and the sector from regulating itself in a manner beneficial for consumers.

Introduction of a price cap system

After conducting a two-phase public consultation on international roaming, the European Commission chose the “European Home Market Approach”: when subscribers place calls or send an SMS using their mobile phones, they must enjoy similar conditions as in their home country no matter where they are in the EU.

This meant applying identical preventive rate limits throughout the Community for using mobile phones in another Member State, by introducing a mechanism to set maximum per-minute rates that operators may charge one another, with a cap on retail prices established on this basis.

The price cap system is applied by means of the Eurotariff *, which places limits on the rates charged by mobile telephone operators for calls made or received in another Member State.

Operators thus have a single, coherent regulatory framework based on objective criteria. The underlying idea is for retail charges to be closer to the costs associated with providing the service, whilst allowing operators the freedom to compete by differentiating their services. For consumers, the Eurotariff does not entail any associated subscription or other fixed charge, and may be combined with any retail tariff.

The method implemented consists of a combination of wholesale * and retail * price regulation.

  • wholesale charges: the levels of the maximum average wholesale charges are EUR 0.28 and EUR 0.26 since 30 August 2008 and 1 July 2009. It decreased to EUR 0.22 and EUR 0.18 from 1 July 2010 and from 1 July 2011.Wholesale charges also apply to regulated roaming SMS messages. From 1 July 2009, the maximum average wholesale charge cannot exceed EUR 0.04 per SMS.There is also a maximum for the wholesale charge on data roaming services of EUR 1 per sent megabyte. This charge will decrease to EUR 0.80 and EUR 0.50 per megabyte from 1 July 2010 and 1 July 2011 respectively.
  • retail charges: to ensure that the profit generated by the capping of wholesale charges is passed on to consumers, the Regulation also applies a cap for retail charges. The price ceiling for calls made is EUR 0.46 to EUR 0.43 and EUR 0.22 to EUR 0.19 for calls received as from 30 August 2008 and 1 July 2009. It will decrease to EUR 0.39 and EUR 0.35 for calls made and to EUR 0.15 and EUR 0.11 for calls received as from 1 July 2010 and 1 July 2011. Furthermore, operators must apply charges to the second after the first 30 seconds of the call. The retail price of a Eurotariff SMS for a regulated roaming SMS cannot exceed EUR 0.11 from 1 July 2009.

Desire for transparency

Each provider shall automatically, free of charge and without undue delay (by means of an automatic message service) send the customer personalised pricing information on the roaming charges when s/he enters another Member State.

The personalised pricing information shall include the maximum price for making a call, receiving a call, sending an SMS and mobile Internet access during the stay in the other Member State.

Providers must ensure that roaming customers are kept informed of prices applicable to the use of data roaming services so that they can manage their spending better. To this end, from 1 March 2010, consumers will have the option to set a disconnection limit with their operator for data roaming services; once the bill has reached the set limit, the operator will disconnect the data roaming service if the customer does not request the service to be continued. From 1 July 2010 a disconnection limit of EUR 50 will automatically be applied to all customers who have not set a specific limit with their operators.

Implementation and compliance with conditions

The national regulatory authorities, meeting within the European Regulators Group and in collaboration with the Commission, are responsible for enforcing the relevant provisions and for monitoring developments in wholesale and retail charges. The Member States themselves determine the system of sanctions to be applied in the event of an infringement of the Regulation.

Background

In recent years, the telecommunications sector has expanded rapidly, thanks in part to measures at European level to encourage investment. All of the directives adopted in 2002 and their recently adopted amendments have specifically enabled a regulatory framework for electronic communications services to be established. However, the problem of extremely high international roaming charges had not been resolved. It affects all citizens travelling abroad within the EU (for business or personal reasons). These excessive retail prices result both from high wholesale charges levied by the foreign host network operator and, in many cases, from high retail mark-ups charged by the customer’s own network operator. The Regulation on roaming aims to resolve the problems detailed above.

Key terms used in the act
  • “International roaming” means the use of a mobile telephone or other device by a roaming customer to make or receive calls, while outside the Member State in which the customer’s home network is located, by means of arrangements between the operator of the home network and the operator of the visited network.
  • “Eurotariff” means a per-minute roaming charge, for which the Regulation establishes a price ceiling it must not exceed for making and receiving calls abroad, and which is available to all consumers in the European Union.
  • Euro-SMS-price: a roaming price of EUR 0.11 excluding VAT per SMS sent from abroad.
  • “Wholesale charge” means the charge billed by the foreign operator to the home provider of a person who makes or receives calls in the foreign country.
  • “Retail charge” means the charge billed by the home provider of a person who uses his or her mobile telephone on a foreign network. The amount of the charge depends on the wholesale price, plus the cost of the service provided.
  • SMS: a Short Message Service text message.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 717/2007

30.6.2007

30.8.2007

OJ L 171 of 29.6.2007

Amending act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member State Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 544/2009

2.7.2009

OJ L 167 of 29.6.2009

Related Acts

Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (“Framework Directive”) [Official Journal L 108 of 24.04.2002].

Mobile broadband services

Mobile broadband services

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Mobile broadband services

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Mobile broadband services

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 30 June 2004 on mobile broadband services [COM(2004) 447 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication examines the broader policy and regulatory environment for mobile broadband services. The principal aim is to ensure access to information at all times and in all locations within the European Union and to maintain European leadership in the sector. The Communication indicates how the challenges may be met and, in drawing it up, the Commission consulted widely with industry players through the Mobile Communications and Technology Platform and a workshop on the mobile sector held in June 2004.

EU labour productivity has improved considerably over recent years and this progress has been based to a great extent on electronic communications services, which are essential for Europe’s economic competitiveness. Two trends can be discerned in this sector in Europe:

  • broadband growth of more than 80% in 2003;
  • mobile revenues have overtaken those of fixed telephony.

Looking forward, the convergence of telecommunications, broadcasting and internet will result in the proliferation of high speed multimedia services delivered over mobile networks. For example, mobile users will be able to shop and pay on-line and receive a whole range of audio-visual services such as music and video.

For the Commission, it is vital to overcome the political and technological barriers to achieving the aims that have been set in order to ensure the success of these systems and to prepare the future by means of concerted action at EU level.

Research and innovation

The EU will only maintain its competitive advantage by focussing on innovation. Competitiveness on the world market is based not only on profitability but also on the capacity to innovate. The Commission intends to launch a comprehensive programme of integrated activities to promote cooperation between the major players in the pre-competitive research phase.

There is a growing fragmentation of the mobile and wireless communications market. To prevent this, research must address the entire value chain, from technological development to the development of services, which will require European and then global standards and platforms.

In the context of the preparation of the 7th Framework Programme, the “Mobile Communications and Technology Platform” initiative provides an opportunity to put in place a formal technology platform in the mobile and wireless communications sector. The aim of this structure would be to draw up a strategic research agenda, achieve the necessary critical mass for research and innovation and mobilise substantial public and private funding.

The interoperability of services, content and terminals is critical for achieving the goal of mass market adoption. In the Commission’s opinion, without interoperability, markets could collapse. To prevent fragmentation of the markets for third generation mobile communication systems, interoperability between the various services and terminals is vital.

A number of fora are involved in service specification and standardisation with the aim of providing service interoperability. The cooperation between the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the Global Certification Forum (GCF) and the agenda of the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) provide a good basis on which to build. However, the increased complexity brought about by a converging environment presents a new challenge that needs to be addressed.

Technical challenges

The Commission aims to stimulate the demand for mobile communications and the development of new services. To do this, it is essential to increase the range and quality of the content available on mobile. There are, however, many obstacles to be overcome, which the Commission hopes to eliminate so as to ensure the fast take-up of mobile services in Europe. The Commission intends to conduct a study on technical and other potential obstacles.

A secure environment for content is crucial for the development of these services. The rights to protected digital content require new business models that guarantee the effective payment of intellectual property rights.

National law applies for determining the compensation to be paid for the reproduction of protected content for private use. In deciding on the level of compensation, the availability of digital rights management systems and services for the distribution of content over mobile communications needs to be taken into consideration.

Legally, the traditional system of territorial licences granted by national rightholders applies for mobile communications. These licences no longer meet the needs of the information society in the enlarged European Union. The Commission is therefore proposing Community licences for mobile content issued using a one-stop-shop mechanism (COM(2004) 261).

The Commission is aiming for greater flexibility in radio spectrum usage in the EU. The Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) is currently reviewing approaches to spectrum management for broadband mobile services. The Group favours a coordinated European approach based on market-oriented solutions and free or “unlicensed” use of spectrum with exclusive usage rights.

The use of mobile phone pre-paid cards as a means of payment to purchase products and services, other than communication services, may be classed as the use of electronic money. Mobile broadband services extend this use of electronic money but, pending the creation of a new legal framework providing for a single EU payment area, mobile operators are faced with uncertainties regarding the current Community rules on electronic money and money laundering (Directive on electronic money).

In the short term, the mobile industry needs an appropriate interim solution that provides a degree of legal certainty. The Commission will lay down criteria for national regulators in applying the Directive. The regulatory authorities should aim to apply only the minimum regulation needed to ensure appropriate coverage of risks for financial stability and consumer protection.

From networks to people

Third generation mobile communications will require a greater number of base stations than previous GSM networks owing to the higher frequency bands used. Problems with obtaining legal authorisation in each of the Member States are hampering the physical deployment of 3G networks. More generally, the Commission takes the view that the health and safety of citizens is adequately protected, provided that exposure of the public remains below EU limits.

The use of personal and sensitive data concerning individuals and companies requires reliable and secure identification and authentication procedures. A common interoperable authentication framework is needed to ensure general purpose authentication across Europe.

International cooperation on research and development is essential. The Commission takes the view that the benefits of open and global standards should be exploited to achieve global interoperability.

Related Acts

Commission Communication of 11 June 2002, Towards the Full Roll-Out of Third Generation Mobile Communications [COM(2002) 301 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This Communication summarises the situation in the sector. The roll-out of third generation mobile services (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) or “3G” services) has been slower than expected and is facing a number of difficulties. The Communication also identifies the main challenges that must be overcome so that 3G services can fulfil their role in building a competitive, dynamic information society.

Radio spectrum policy programme

Radio spectrum policy programme

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Radio spectrum policy programme

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Radio spectrum policy programme (Proposal)

8a of Directive 2002/21/EC invites the European Commission to implement a five-year radio spectrum policy programme in order to manage it better.

Proposal

Proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 September 2010 establishing the first radio spectrum policy programme [COM(2010) 471 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Proposal aims to put in place a five-year radio spectrum policy programme. This Proposal forms part of a package of measures presented by the European Commission in September 2010 which includes a Communication on broadband and a Recommendation on Next Generation Access networks. This programme sets the parameters of the spectrum required for the functioning of the internal market, both in electronic communications and in other fields such as transport, research and energy.

Programme policy objectives

The objectives of the radio spectrum policy programme are to:

  • make sufficient spectrum available to satisfy growing needs;
  • maximise flexibility in the use of spectrum;
  • enhance the efficient use of spectrum;
  • promote competition between electronic communications services in particular;
  • harmonise the internal market and develop transnational services;
  • avoid interference and disturbances;
  • protect human health.

Enhancing the efficient and flexible use of spectrum

Member States are required to:

  • adopt by 1 January 2013 authorisation and allocation measures appropriate for the development of broadband services, such as allowing, for example, relevant operators direct or indirect access to contiguous blocks of spectrum of at least 10 MHz;
  • foster the collective use of spectrum as well as shared use of spectrum;
  • cooperate to develop harmonised standards for radio equipment and terminals;
  • adopt selection conditions and procedures which promote investment and efficient use of spectrum.

The European Commission shall develop guidelines on authorisation conditions and procedures for spectrum bands concerning infrastructure sharing and coverage conditions in order to avoid over-fragmentation of the internal market.

Promoting competition

In order to ensure fair competition in the market, Member States may adopt the following measures:

  • limiting the amount of spectrum for which rights of use are granted to any economic operator;
  • limiting the granting of new rights of use in certain bands in order to prevent certain economic operators from accumulating too many spectrum frequencies and harming competition;
  • prohibiting transfers of spectrum usage rights;
  • amending the existing rights of certain operators in cases of excessive accumulation, in accordance with Article 14 of Directive 2002/20/EC.

Defining spectrum for wireless broadband communications

Member States shall allocate a sufficient portion of spectrum for all European citizens to have access to broadband by 2020.

Member States shall authorise the use of harmonised bands by 2012 in order to allow consumers easy access to wireless broadband services.

Member States shall make the 800 MHz band (the digital dividend) available for electronic communications services by 2013, allowing for exceptions.

The Commission is invited to adopt measures to ensure that Member States allow trading within the EU of spectrum usage rights in the harmonised bands.

The Commission may ensure the availability of additional spectrum bands for the provision of harmonised satellite services for broadband access.

Responding to specific spectrum needs

In addition to communications, spectrum must be available for the following specific needs:

  • monitoring the Earth’s atmosphere and surface;
  • developing and exploiting space applications;
  • improving transport systems, for example through GALILEO;
  • services related to civil protection;
  • the results of research and development projects.

In order to save energy in spectrum use, the Commission shall conduct studies on creating a low-carbon policy and developing energy-saving technologies.

Creating an inventory of existing uses of and emerging needs for spectrum

The Commission, along with Member States, shall create an inventory of existing spectrum use and of future needs for spectrum with regard to the bands between 300 MHz to 3 GHz. This inventory should provide more transparency and highlight the advantages and disadvantages of spectrum use.

Participating in international negotiations and cooperating with different bodies

The Union shall participate in international negotiations relating to spectrum matters, in accordance with the rules of the Treaty, to defend its interests. In international negotiations, Member States shall ensure that the spectrum required for the development of EU policies is available.

Member States are required to ensure that the international agreements they sign up to are in accordance with EU legislation.

If required, the EU may provide political and technical support to Member States during bilateral negotiations with third countries.

The Commission and Member States must work closely with the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (ECPT), standardisation bodies and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) on technical issues in order to ensure the best use of spectrum outside the EU.

Reference

Proposal Official Journal Procedure

COM(2010) 471

2010/252/COD

Next steps in radio spectrum policy

Next steps in radio spectrum policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Next steps in radio spectrum policy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Next steps in radio spectrum policy

To contribute to establishment of a Community framework for radio spectrum policy which is responsive to radiocommunications developments and supports Europe’s competitive position on the global market. The fundamental objective is that this Community framework should be accessible and transparent and provide certainty for all for whom the radio spectrum is a vital resource.

2) Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 10 November 1999 on the next steps in radio spectrum policy – results of the public consultation on the Green Paper [COM(1999) 538 final – not published in the Official Journal].

3) Summary

Radio appliances such as television sets, radios and mobile phones work by propagating electromagnetic waves between a transmitter and a receiver. The “radio spectrum” means all the possible frequencies which these waves could have. The “frequency” is the number of times a wave oscillates in a second, and by tuning a radio receiver to a specific frequency a specific signal can be picked up. Frequency bands define the specific location of services in the radio spectrum.

The environment for radio spectrum policy is undergoing far-reaching changes as a result of technological progress and adaptation of the market and regulations. Development of this sector has the potential to stimulate economic growth, create employment and promote general welfare. At the same time, a balance must be struck between the needs of new commercial networks and the non-economic benefits to society of non-commercial applications such as defence, public service broadcasting, emergency services and radio astronomy.

In December 1998 the Commission published a Green Paper to launch a public debate to see whether the present practice of radio spectrum policy meets the Community’s strategic objectives.

These policy objectives include:

  • to facilitate technological innovation and competition in radiocommunications, mobile telephony and wireless local networks;
  • to pursue Community objectives with regard to the radio spectrum within a predictable and legally certain regulatory framework;
  • to ensure an appropriate balancing of the interests of the individual Member States, of the European Community and of the different user communities; and
  • to safeguard the Community’s interests in the international negotiations on the radio spectrum.

THE PUBLIC CONSULTATION OF THE GREEN PAPER

Following the publication of the Green Paper on radio spectrum policy, the Commission sought the views of the public at large on a large number of complex issues. Contributions were received from the communications sector, broadcasters, businesses, researchers and the authorities responsible for radio spectrum management. Two hearings were held in 1999. These gave the Commission an opportunity to identify the central issues in the ongoing debate on radio spectrum policy and management.

STRATEGIC PLANNING OF THE USE OF THE RADIO SPECTRUM

General picture

Use of the radio spectrum needs to be planned strategically to allow investment and regulatory decisions to be taken. The vast majority of the communications interests and regulatory authorities supported the strategic planning process at international level under the auspices of the ITU/WRC (International Telecommunications Union and its World Radiocommunications Conference). Small firms and non-communications interests stressed how difficult it was for them to gain access to the planning process.

Often the spectrum is used for services in the general interest. Policy decisions therefore have to be taken, even if they do not fall strictly within the scope of radio spectrum management. The differing political, cultural and market situations in the Member States make it extremely difficult to achieve political agreement.

Opinions of the sectors

The communications sector called for reallocation of radio frequencies and suggested that part of the radio spectrum currently reserved for government or public uses should be transferred to the communications sector so that it could obtain additional radio spectrum for its activities.

The broadcasting sector is preparing for the changeover from analogue to digital transmission. This means more frequencies will be needed. In addition, in the longer term the sector expects that a substantial increase in frequencies will be necessary to develop new multimedia services and for special interest channels.

The transport sector considers strategic planning a long-term exercise since it takes lengthy preparations to introduce systems with long life cycles. Long-term planning would therefore require a process of negotiating international agreements in order to deploy internationally compatible transport networks and safeguard critical communications.

HARMONISATION OF RADIO SPECTRUM ALLOCATION

General picture

Harmonisation of radio spectrum allocation offers numerous advantages: economies of scale, lower costs, lower consumer prices, interoperability, etc.

The respondents were divided on the need for harmonisation. Some believed in complete harmonisation, while others were more hesitant. Ultimately, it seems that the need for harmonisation, particularly for cross-border services, should be decided case by case. The criteria to be used to decide in which circumstances harmonisation is required remain to be decided. The harmonisation process must be open, transparent and responsive to the interests of existing and potential users.

Again, the respondents mentioned the need for policy decisions laying the foundation for harmonisation and striking a fair balance between private and public interests for use of the same frequency bands.

Opinions of the sectors

The communications sector saw harmonisation of radio spectrum allocation as crucial for the provision of seamless pan-European services.

The broadcasting sector also considered this issue important, but less urgent than suggested by the communications sector.

The transport sector in turn considered harmonisation of radio spectrum allocation essential since transport networks were increasingly taking on pan-European or global dimensions.

RADIO SPECTRUM ASSIGNEMENT AND LICENSING

General picture

It was generally considered that allocation of radio frequencies between users should respond to local and national needs and was therefore best carried out at national level. The fact that the amount of radio spectrum available for certain services varies from one country to another could therefore be accepted. However, the differing licensing conditions and lack of single licences to provide services throughout the Community were criticised as particularly burdensome. It was agreed that assignment and licensing procedures and conditions in the Community must take due account of international commitments, particularly in the area of trade.

The national regulatory authorities were generally in favour of charging for access to the radio spectrum, which could make assignment decisions easier whenever there was a shortage of radio spectrum and encourage efficient usage thereof. However, views diverged on which assignment and licensing mechanism is best in which circumstances.

Opinions of the sectors

The communications sector acknowledged that radio spectrum assignment and licensing should be decided as close to the market as possible. Such harmonisation would favour development and internationalisation of the market. The sector was in favour of charging for access provided a level playing field was established to make sure that users in the same sector were subject to the same requirements.

The broadcasting sector was opposed to the introduction of charges for access. The transport sector also felt that charging was inappropriate in the case of services in the public interest.

THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR RADIO SPECTRUM COORDINATION

General picture

According to the Member States and the communications sector it was simply necessary to improve the institutional framework for radio spectrum coordination. However, some respondents said that the ITU/WRC (for spectrum management at world level), the CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations for spectrum management at regional level) and the national regulatory authorities put the interests of the communications sector first.

Opinions of the sectors

The communications sector suggested improving rather than replacing the current arrangements for radio spectrum management.

The broadcasting and transport sectors considered that commercial and non-commercial uses were so incompatible that a political decision was needed.

RADIO EQUIPMENT AND STANDARDS

Most respondents felt that use of the radio spectrum should be technology-neutral but that standardisation was necessary in order to provide European consumers with seamless services and uniform, interoperable equipment.

According to the manufacturers, radio spectrum harmonisation would further benefit from the liberalised regime for placing on the market and use of radio and telecommunications terminal equipment put in place by the Directive.

NEXT STEPS IN RADIO SPECTRUM POILICY

On analysis of the responses received to the questions posed in the Green Paper, the European Commission has identified the following areas where Community action is required:

  • addressing radio spectrum policy issues at Community level, by setting up an expert group to help the Commission to decide Community priorities on harmonisation of radio spectrum use;
  • establishment of a regulatory framework for Community radio spectrum policy by adopting a European Parliament and Council decision providing for the CEPT to draft technical harmonisation measures in response to Community requirements and ensuring proper implementation of these measures by the Member States;
  • ensuring the availability of information;
  • safeguarding Community interests in the ITU/WRC by building on the coordination between the Member States within the CEPT;
  • safeguarding the Community’s interests in the context of international trade;
  • improving radio spectrum management by the CEPT and the way the CEPT works.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

Decision 676/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy in the European Community (Radio Spectrum Decision) [Official Journal L 108, 24.04.2002].

The purpose of the Decision is to set up a policy framework for radio spectrum use, taking into account the economic, cultural, scientific and social aspects of Community policies, as well as considerations of security, public interest and freedom of expression. The objective is also to establish a legal framework to ensure harmonised conditions with respect to the availability and efficient use of radio spectrum.

 

Regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy

Regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy

Document or Iniciative

Decision No 676/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy in the European Community (Radio Spectrum Decision)

Summary

The objective of this Decision is to establish a policy framework for the use of the radio spectrum, taking account of the economic, cultural, scientific and social aspects of Community policy, as well as considerations of security, public interest and freedom of expression. The Decision is also aimed at establishing a legal framework to ensure that the conditions for the availability and effective use of the radio spectrum are harmonised. The final objective is to protect the interests of the European Community in international negotiations on the use of the spectrum.

Radio waves are electromagnetic waves propagated in space without artificial guide. More specifically, the radio spectrum includes radio waves with frequencies of between 9 kHz and 3000 GHz. This Decision therefore governs the allocation of all radio and wireless communication frequencies (including GSM, UMTS, etc.) in so far as they support the achievement of a well-functioning internal market.

The European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) is an organisation for inter-governmental technical cooperation which currently includes 46 European countries.. It carries out studies and technical work to fix parameters which allow different applications to use radio frequencies without causing interference to other applications.

Tasks of the Radio Spectrum Committee

In defining, developing and implementing Community radio spectrum policy, the European Commission is assisted by the “Radio Spectrum Committee”, which is made up of representatives of the Member States and is chaired by a representative of the Commission.

The Committee examines the Commission’s proposals on technical implementing measures to harmonise conditions for the availability and use of the radio spectrum. It is also responsible for issuing opinions on the mandates issued by the Commission to the CEPT on the harmonisation of radio frequency allocation and the availability of information relating to the use of the spectrum.

Role of the Commission

The Commission decides whether the results of the work carried out pursuant to the mandates will apply in the Community and on the deadline for their implementation by the Member States. These decisions must be published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

The Commission may adopt measures to achieve the objectives of a mandate issued to the CEPT if it or any Member State considers that the work carried out on the basis of a mandate is not progressing satisfactorily or if the results of the mandate are not deemed acceptable.

If necessary, on the basis of a reasoned request by the Member State concerned, the Commission may approve transitional periods or radio spectrum sharing arrangements in a Member State, provided such exception would not unduly defer implementation or create undue differences in the competitive or regulatory situations between Member States.

Availability and confidentiality of information

Member States must ensure that their national radio frequency allocation table and information on rights, conditions, procedures, charges and fees concerning the use of radio spectrum, are published. Member States may not, however, disclose information covered by the obligation of business confidentiality, in particular information about undertakings, their business relations or their cost components.

Context

The Decision follows several specific Community initiatives, in particular concerning 2nd generation mobile telephone services (GSM Directive), wireless digital telecommunications (DECT Directive) and 3rd generation mobile telephone services – UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System).

Radio frequencies are allocated by international bodies, particularly the World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) of the International telecommunication Union (ITU) and, in Europe, by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT). Through this Decision, the European Union also intends to play a role in this field under the framework of the EC Treaty. It should also be noted at the same time that European regulations with regard to electronic communications adopted in 2002 included, for the first time, certain aspects concerning the management of the radio spectrum in their field of application.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 676/2002/EC

24.2. 2002

OJ L 108 of 24.4.2002

Related Acts

IMPLEMENTATION REPORTS

Commission Communication of 6 September 2005: ‘A Forward-looking radio spectrum policy for the European Union: Second annual report’ [COM(2005) 411 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
In this communication the Commission presents a new EU strategy for achieving optimum use of the radio spectrum in Europe. The new strategy advocates more flexible access to the spectrum in order to give market players greater freedom to exploit its resources. To this end, the Commission proposes that, by 2010, exclusive usage rights for sizeable sections of the radio spectrum be made negotiable under rules common to the whole EU.

Commission Communication of 20 July 2004: ‘First annual report on radio spectrum policy in the European Union – State of implementation and outlook’ [COM(2004) 507 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
This first implementation report on the Radio Spectrum Decision states that implementation of the Decision has so far been successful. The institutional structure has been put in place, a policy mechanism adopted, and technical implementing measures developed to ensure legal certainty for spectrum harmonisation.

The report highlights the main challenges facing the Commission in its mission to ensure that the radio spectrum is used in an effective manner. It stresses that the implementation of the Radio Spectrum Decision, in partnership with the other actors in this field, should enable the Commission to continue to meet these challenges in the future.

HARMONISATION OF FREQUENCY BANDS

Commission Decision 2004/545/EC of 8 July 2004 on the harmonisation of radio spectrum in the 79 GHz range for the use of automotive short-range radar equipment in the Community [Official Journal L 241 of 13.7.2008].

Commission Decision 2005/50/EC of 17 January 2005 on the harmonisation of the 24 GHz range radio spectrum band for the time-limited use by automotive short-range radar equipment in the Community [Official Journal n° L 21 of 25.1.2008].

Commission Decision 2005/513/EC of 11 July 2005 on the harmonised use of radio spectrum in the 5 GHz frequency band for the implementation of wireless access systems including radio local area networks (WAS/RLANs) [Official Journal n° L 187, 19.7.2005]

See consolidated version .

Commission Decision 2005/928/CE of 20 December 2005, on the harmonisation of the 169.4-169.8125 MHz frequency band in the Community [Official Journal L 344 of 27.12.2005].

Amended by:
Decision 2008/673/EC [Official Journal L 220 of 15.8.2008].

Commission Decision 2006/771/EC of 9 November 2006 on harmonisation of the radio spectrum for use by short-range devices [Official Journal L 312 of 11.11.2006].
See consolidated version .

Commission Decision 2006/804/EC of 23 November 2006 on harmonisation of the radio spectrum for radio frequency identification (RFID) devices operating in the ultra high frequency (UHF) band [Official Journal L 329 of 25.11.2006].

Commission Decision 2007/98/EC of 14 February 2007 on the harmonised use of radio spectrum in the 2GHz frequency bands for the implementation of systems providing mobile satellite services [Official Journal L 43 of 15.2.2007].

Commission Decision 2007/131/EC of 21 February 2007 on allowing the use of the radio spectrum for equipment using ultra-wideband technology in the Community [Official Journal L 55 of 23.2.2007].

Amended by:
Commission Decision 2009/343/EC [Official Journal L 105of 25.5.2009].

Commission Decision 2007/344/EC of 16 May 2007 on harmonised availability of information regarding spectrum use within the Community [Official Journal L 129 of 17.5.2007].

Commission Decision 2008/294/EC of 7 April 2008 on authorisation of mobile communication services on aircraft (MCA services) in the European Community [Official Journal L 98 of 10.4.2008].

Commission Decision 2008/411/EC of 21 May 2008 on the harmonisation of the 3400-3800 MHz frequency band for terrestrial systems capable of providing electronic communications services in the Community [Official Journal L 144 of 4.6.2008].

Commission Decision 2008/477/EC of 13 June 2008 on the harmonisation of the 2500-2690 MHz frequency band for terrestrial systems capable of providing electronic communications services in the Community [Official Journal L 163 of 24.6.2008].

Commission Decision 2008/671/EC of 5 August 2008 on the harmonised used of radio spectrum in the 5875-5905 MHz frequency band for safety-related applications of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) [Official Journal L 220 of 15.8.2008].

RADIO SPECTRUM POLICY GROUP

Commission Decision No 2002/622/EC of 26 July 2002 establishing a Radio Spectrum Policy Group [Official Journal L 198 of 24.7.2002].
This Decision establishes a consultative group, the Radio Spectrum Policy Group, to assist and advise the Commission on radio spectrum policy issues (such as radio spectrum availability and use, harmonisation and allocation of frequencies, the issue of rights to use the spectrum, and pricing, etc.).
See consolidated version .

COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BOARD VESSELS

Commission Decision 2010/166/EC of 19 March 2010 on harmonised conditions of use of radio spectrum for mobile communication services on board vessels (MCV services) in the European Union [Official Journal n° L 72, 20.3.2010].

Radio local area networks

Radio local area networks

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Radio local area networks

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Radio local area networks (Wi-Fi networks)

Document or Iniciative

Commission Decision 2005/513/EC of 11 July 2005 on the harmonised use of radio spectrum in the 5 GHz frequency band for the implementation of wireless access systems including radio local area networks (WAS/RLANs).

Summary

This Decision increases the possibilities for access to radio local area networks in a single, open and competitive market for wireless access systems (Wi-Fi networks).

Access to this spectrum on the basis of harmonised rules will bring down the cost of equipment and alleviate the growing overloading of the spectrum already used to this end. This will facilitate the adoption of wireless systems in both the private and public sectors, both for company networks and for hotspot access points in public places, shopping centres, hotels, etc.

Availability of frequency bands

Member States are obliged to make two specific frequency bands (5150-5350 MHz and 5470-5725 MHz) available for wireless access systems in all EU states.

Mitigation of interference

The decision introduces power limits and mitigation techniques to prevent harmful interference between radio local area networks and other users of the radio spectrum (particularly military radar and satellite services).

Context

This decision forms part of the i2010 initiative promoting growth and employment in the digital economy.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2005/513/EC

19.7.2005

31.10.2005

Official Journal L 187 of 19.7.2005

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2007/90/EC

12.2.2007

Official Journal L 41 of 13.2.2007

Related Acts

Commission Decision 2002/622/EC of 26 July 2002 establishing a Radio Spectrum Policy Group [Official Journal L 198 of 24.07.2002].
This decision establishes an advisory group, called the Radio Spectrum Policy Group, which is responsible for assisting and advising the Commission on radio spectrum policy issues.

Decision No 676/2002/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 7 March 2002 on a regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy in the European Community (radio spectrum Decision) [Official Journal L 108 of 24.04.2002].
This decision establishes a legal framework in the Community to harmonise and rationalise the use of radio spectrum in the EU.

Radio Spectrum Policy Group

Radio Spectrum Policy Group

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Radio Spectrum Policy Group

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Radio Spectrum Policy Group

Document or Iniciative

Commission Decision 2002/622/EC of 26 July 2002 establishing a Radio Spectrum Policy Group.

Summary

Objective

The Group’s task is to assist and advise the Commission on the following:

  • radio spectrum policy issues;
  • coordination of radio spectrum policy approaches;
  • preparation of multiannual radio spectrum policy programmes;
  • where appropriate, the establishment of harmonised conditions with regard to the availability and efficient use of radio spectrum necessary for the functioning of the internal market.

If necessary, the Group can assist the Commission in preparing proposals to the European Parliament and the Council on common policy objectives for the coordination of the interests of the European Union in international organisations competent in radio spectrum matters.

Composition

The Group comprises one governmental expert from each Member State and a representative of the Commission.

Operational arrangements

At the Commission’s request or on its own initiative, the Group adopts opinions addressed to the Commission. The European Parliament or the Council may ask the Commission for an opinion or a report of the Group. In this case the Group adopts the opinion, which is then transmitted by the Commission to the requesting institution.

The Group may invite observers to attend its meetings, including from the States of the European Economic Area, the States which are candidates for accession, the European Parliament, the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

Consultation

In the interests of openness and transparency, the Group must, at an early stage, consult stakeholders, including market participants, consumers and end-users.

Confidentiality

Where the Commission considers that the requested opinion is on a matter of a confidential nature, the members of the Group – and any other person attending – are under an obligation not to disclose information which has come to their knowledge through the work of the Group.

Complementarity with the Radio Spectrum Committee

The work of the Group should complement that of the Radio Spectrum Committee set up by the Radio Spectrum Decision.

Key terms used in the act
  • Radio spectrum: radio waves in frequencies between 9 kHz and 3 000 GHz.
  • Radio waves: electromagnetic waves propagated in space without artificial guide.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2002/622/EC

27.7.2002

OJ L 198 of 27.7.2002

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2009/978/EC

7.1.2010

OJ L 336 of 18.12.2009

Related Acts

Decision 676/2002/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy in the European Community (Radio Spectrum Decision) [Official Journal L 108 of 24.4.2002].
This Decision establishes a legal framework in the Community to harmonise and rationalise the use of radio spectrum in the EU.

Radiofrequencies

Radiofrequencies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Radiofrequencies

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Radiofrequencies

Radio frequencies allow images, sound and information to be transmitted over large distances by radio waves. They are the basis of mobile communications. European companies are among the largest global players in this sector. This success is largely explained by the development of a European GSM technical standard. Around two billion people now use mobile phones complying with the European GSM standard.

In order to support the internal market for wireless services and to promote innovation in electronic communications, the European Union plans to regulate and coordinate the use of the radio spectrum.

Mobile communications

  • Use of mobile phones on aircraft
  • Legal framework for mobile TV
  • Strengthening the internal market for mobile TV
  • Roaming on public mobile telephone networks
  • Mobile broadband services
  • Third-generation mobile communications
  • Radio frequencies: digital European cordless telecommunications – DECT – UMTS
  • Mobile communications GSM – UMTS

Radio spectrum

  • Radio spectrum policy programme (Proposal)
  • Towards optimal use of the digital dividend
  • Radio local area networks (Wi-Fi networks)
  • Radio Spectrum Policy Group
  • Regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy
  • Next steps in radio spectrum policy
  • World Radiocommunication Conference 2003
  • World Radiocommunications Conference 2000 (WRC-2000)
  • Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in Europe: steps towards a policy framework
  • Radio frequencies: European Radio Communications Committee

Towards optimal use of the digital dividend

Towards optimal use of the digital dividend

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Towards optimal use of the digital dividend

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Towards optimal use of the digital dividend

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 13 November 2007 – Reaping the full benefits of the digital dividend in Europe: A common approach to the use of the spectrum released by the digital switchover [COM(2007) 700 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The switchover from analogue to digital television by the end of 2012, even though certain Member States are planning to switch at a later date, will free up an unprecedented amount of spectrum. The frequencies released are collectively known as the “digital dividend”.

It is necessary to provide for and maximise the economic and social impact of the digital dividend. The total value of e-communication services that depend on use of the spectrum is in excess of EUR 250 billion a year in the European Union (EU). The roll-out of innovative services by way of the dividend could significantly contribute to achieving the goals of competitiveness and economic growth under the Lisbon Strategy.

The digital dividend will also be able to meet a range of social and cultural needs of European citizens, by effectively combating the digital divide.

For this reason, the Commission proposes implementation of a common spectrum plan at Community level in preparation for ensuring optimal use of the digital dividend.

Fragmentation of the digital dividend

All existing wireless applications, for which there is rapidly increasing demand, such as wireless broadband communications or mobile television, are likely to benefit from the digital dividend.

Current national radio spectrum policies do not, however, promote coordinated access to the spectrum between Member States. According to the opinion (pdf ) of the Radio Spectrum Policy Group, several possible uses of the dividend will not come about without adequate coordination of spectrum access.

The digital dividend is currently scattered in relatively narrow segments across a large number of frequencies, resulting in the distribution of the spectrum anticipated by the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Regional Radiocommunication Conference. Until switch-off of analogue TV, the digital dividend coexists with analogue. For this reason it is essential to make the spectrum bands of the dividend easier to access for all the Member States.

Adequate spectrum planning

The Commission wishes to reinforce the Community dimension of spectrum planning for the digital dividend by reserving and coordinating common spectrum bands at Community level.

The Member States are invited to work together to encourage consistent and flexible access to the digital dividend with a view to facilitating the introduction of new services.

The digital switchover has characteristics specific to the spectrum situation in each of the Member States (public service obligations, timing differences, etc.). The common spectrum management plan at Community level should be phased in with sufficient flexibility to accommodate these national specificities.

Before determining the most appropriate legal instrument for implementing this harmonised clustering of spectrum bands, the Commission proposes to undertake preparatory work on various economic, commercial and technical issues.

Background

Digital dividend management meets the objectives of the i2010 initiative, itself part of the renewed Lisbon strategy, which considers Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as essential for growth and employment.

Key terms used in the act
  • Radio spectrum: the radio spectrum is only a relatively small part of the electromagnetic spectrum, from 3 Hz to 300 GHz. In line with the range of frequencies, the radio spectrum is divided into frequency bands and sub-bands. These waves enable, for instance, the transmission of mobile communications and fixed wireless communications.