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Spectrum Clash

The pressure on terrestrial broadcasters to give spectrum to the mobile sector shows no sign of letting up. Roland Beutler, at Germany’s Südwestrundfunk, a regional public broadcaster, puts his side of the debate.

Spectrum Clash

The terrestrial broadcasting industry came under severe pressure some eight years ago when mobile services started to capture spectrum ranges previously used for the delivery of terrestrial TV and radio services. In 2007 the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-07) allocated the 800 MHz band to mobile on a co-primary basis. Three years later Germany was the first country in Europe to auction off the band. Soon after, the first mobile networks were rolledout. This spectrum allocation was a shock for broadcasters in Europe, which were still savouring the results of the Regional Radiocommunication Conference, RRC-06, which had given them a great plan for digital terrestrial broadcasting in Europe.

However, history repeated itself at WRC-12 when the 700 MHz band was given to mobile on a co-primary basis, this time without even a corresponding agenda item. To many broadcasters and administrations, this came out of the blue. Just recently 700 MHz has been auctioned off in Germany, which again was the first European country to do so.

Since 2012 there has been a debate about the rest of the UHF band. WRC-15 has Agenda Item 1.1, which is looking for even more spectrum for mobile services – and it is no surprise that the remaining part of UHF between 470–694 MHz has been proposed as a candidate band.

But there seems to be wide agreement in Europe that this remaining UHF band should be kept exclusively for terrestrial broadcasting. Yet, companies such as Ericsson and Nokia and organisations such as the GSMA have been lobbying heavily to make 470–694 MHz available to mobile services. They are supported by the administrations of the US, Canada and Mexico.

The argument is that it is vital to mobile network operators to get access to this band to cope with future traffic demands. But there seems to be doubt about this claim among many organisations in Europe as no quantitative evidence has been provided to support it.

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