Pascal Lamy chairs European High Level Group on future use of UHF spectrum
Pascal Lamy chairs High Level Group to advise Commission on future use of UHF spectrum by broadcasting and wireless broadband.
Pascal Lamy and top executives from Europe's broadcasters, network operators, mobile companies and tech associations have six months to come up with proposals on how the UHF spectrum band (470-790 MHz) could be used in the coming decades. With both broadcast and broadband demand and use evolving at lightning speed, Neelie Kroes expects quick results to secure the long-term future of television and broadband services.
The wider UHF spectrum, including the 800 MHz band, is mostly used for broadcasting, mobile broadband and wireless microphones. The broadband and broadcasting sectors are both keen to secure the predictable future use of this highly desirable spectrum band, but a commonly acceptable way forward is not in sight. Meanwhile, some Member States are considering allocating part of their 700 MHz frequencies for wireless broadband, which would affect and be affected by terrestrial broadcasters in neighbouring countries. This uncertainty and lack of a coherentview of how Europe is going to develop the terrestrial platforms used by both services is hampering investments in all types of services and infrastructure. The price is being paid by the citizens and the wider economy.
Vice-President Neelie Kroes has challenged Mr Lamy (former EU Commissioner and WTO chief) and industry executives to find ways toadapt current spectrum use to respond to profound changes like converging broadband and broadcasting services, the need for more efficient spectrum use and international developments inspectrum use. The High Level Group held its first meeting in Brussels today.
VP Kroes said "I am looking for a win-win outcome that delivers more and better television and more and better broadband. I want Pascal and his group to look at how Europe will use data and audiovisual content in the medium to long term and come up with a vision of how to respond to the challenges we are facing. "
Pascal Lamy said 'I expect these discussions to be quite challenging. Nobody will get everything they want, but I am confident that, based on an open discussion of the main needs and trends and a willingness to engage at the strategic level, we can deliver a coherent response to Neelie Kroes' request."
The High Level Group will meet three further times in the first half of 2014 and deliver a final report and recommendations by 30th June.
The Group has been asked to look at how Europe will use data and audiovisual content in the medium to long term and come up with options that respond to 4 separate challenges:
- What will next generation (terrestrial) provision/reception of audiovisual content (including linear TV) look like?
- How do we secure the public interest and consumer benefits while facilitating market transformation?
- What are the strategic elements of spectrum use in the UHF band in light of the first challenge? What would the regulatory role of the EU be in coordinating developments?
- What are the financial implications for a next-generation terrestrial platform for broadcasting and internet use?
At today's meeting, Neelie Kroes sketched out the challenge ahead "Change is happening in your industries. Convergence is already a fact in the cable world and the IPTV world. The greatest volume of broadband use is for audiovisual consumption. The TV viewing habits of young people bear no resemblance to that of my generation. We are faced with a simple choice: Either we try to steer these developments, or we will be engulfed by them and be left with a chaotic patchwork. But I am much more of an optimist than that. I want Europe to find a way forward that delivers more and better television and more and better broadband".
The advice of the High Level Group will help the Commission develop, in cooperation with the Member States, a long-term strategic and regulatory policy on the future use of the entire UHF band (470-790 MHz).