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Radio local area networks: Commission enables faster wireless access to the internet
Commission Européenne - IP/05/929 14/07/2005
Brussels, July 14 2005
Wireless access to the Internet will become faster and more widespread thanks to a decision adopted by the Commission today. This decision makes available a substantial amount of radio spectrum throughout the European Union for radio local area networks (RLANs) – commonly known as “Wi-Fi” –, used to provide access on the move to the Internet and private networks. Market analysts suggest an explosion of WiFi users over the next 3 years.
“High-speed electronic communication networks are essential to Europe’s competitiveness. A supportive regulatory environment is a key factor in their take-up,” commented Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “Today’s Commission decision will help industry to create innovative services, such as wireless Voice over IP, for a single European market.”
This decision, part of the i2010 initiative to foster growth and jobs in the digital economy (see IP/05/643), paves the way for an open and competitive single market for wireless access systems.
Access to this spectrum with common rules will make equipment cheaper and alleviate the growing overloading of spectrum already used for this purpose. It will facilitate the take-up of wireless systems for private as well as public access, from corporate networks to hotspots in areas such as airports, train stations, shopping malls and hotels.
According to market analysts today’s 120 million Wi-Fi users world-wide (25 million in Western Europe) may grow to 500 million and more over the next 3 years, putting radio local area networks in the same league as cellular mobile in terms of consumer appeal. Economically speaking differences will remain as Wi-Fi customer revenue is substantially lower: Wi-Fi is offered at much lower cost and quite often for free.
Today’s Commission decision, which is to be implemented by Member States by 31 October 2005, makes two specific frequency bands (5150-5350 MHz and 5470-5725 MHz) available in all Member States for wireless access systems. The decision also introduces innovative spectrum management approaches, by requiring the application of “intelligent” techniques to protect other radio spectrum users against harmful interference, such as military radar and satellite services.
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