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Brussels, 14 December 2006

From alarms to medical implants: Commission frees frequencies for short range wireless devices across the EU

Frequency bands used by everyday wireless devices such as garage door openers, wireless alarms, baby monitors, head phones and microphones will soon be harmonised throughout Europe as a result of two recent Commission Decisions. Life will be simpler as anyone in Europe will be able to use the same short range wireless product anywhere in the EU and manufacturers need only make one product for the whole internal market. For consumers this could mean lower prices. Radio frequencies for Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) devices will be also harmonised. These electronic tags are increasingly used in businesses such as retail and logistics, tracking of goods and persons, security and alarm systems, etc.

From garage door openers to baby monitors, alarms and wireless medical implants, short range devices affect us all, from the very young to the very old,” said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. “That´s why these Commission decisions will help create a single market for wireless devices, stimulate their uptake, boost industry in this vital sector and provide benefits to all Europeans.

The impact of these Commission decisions will be that these short range wireless devices, often portable mass market products, can be operated without a licence in all Member States. Consumers will not have to check whether specific equipment can be used in each Member State. Nor will they have to worry that a wireless product bought in one Member State will not work in another, or that it will disrupt other wireless communications. This will spur demand, reduce production costs for manufacturers and encourage new innovative devices and applications. A recent Commission study estimated the value of the market for these devices to be €25 billion by 2009.

Harmonisation of the RFID radio spectrum will support the development of RFID technology in Europe. The retail sector is likely to be the main first user to increase the efficiency in the flow of goods and storage, resulting in significant savings. Overcoming so far fragmented frequency availability, the Commission initiative will directly help reinforce the internal market of free flowing goods and services. It is a clear sign of Commissioner Reding's commitment to facilitate the introduction of RFID applications (see IP/06/289). According to some estimates the value of RFID services and equipment market in Europe (EU-15) will reach €4 billion by 2010.

The two Commission Decisions were prepared in consultation with the EU Member States’ radio spectrum experts.

The Decisions specify harmonised conditions for the use of radio spectrum, applicable throughout the EU, for a large range of low power short range radio transmitters. While one of these harmonisation measures covers RFIDs, ensuring harmonised frequencies throughout the EU as the application of RFIDs rapidly advances, the other addresses certain equipment categories of relevance today, but also has a built-in mechanism allowing it to expand as new devices are developed and hit the market. In adopting this future-proof concept, the Commission reacts to a particularly dynamic field for new devices and applications.

These spectrum harmonisation Decisions form part of the Commission's engagement on radio spectrum policy at EU level (see IP/05/1199) and were adopted following the Radio Spectrum Decision which allows for a coordinated EU approach on technical radio spectrum matter. The EU Radio Spectrum Committee (Member State representatives) gave its favourable opinion to these Decisions.

More information:

The EU´s Radio Spectrum Policy:

The two decisions on harmonisation of the radio spectrum use by short-range devices and for radio frequency identification (RFID) devices in the ultra high frequency (UHF) band:

Study on Legal, Economic & Technical Aspects of ‘Collective Use’ of Spectrum in the European Community (2006):

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