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Regulatory framework for radio spectrum policy
Frequencies are a scarce resource. The extremely rapid technical developments in mobile communication services have resulted in a boom in demand for use of radio frequencies. In this context, the ‘radio spectrum’ Decision establishes a Community legal framework in order to ensure that policies are coordinated and, if necessary, to harmonise and rationalise the use of the radio spectrum within the European Union (EU).
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)
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.
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.
|Act||Entry into force||Deadline for transposition in the Member States||Official Journal|
OJ L 108 of 24.4.2002
- Further information on radio spectrum policy is available on the webpage dedicated to the radio spectrum on the Commission website.