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MEMO/09/158

Brussels, 7 April 2009

"Making Use of Europe's Digital Dividend now to Counter the Economic Downturn". Statement by EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding following a Meeting with Dániel Pataki, Chairman of the Radio Spectrum Policy Group

Following today's strategic meeting with Dániel Pataki, Head of the Hungarian Regulatory Authority and Chairman of the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) – a high-level advisory group on radio spectrum set up by the Commission in 2002 –, Commissioner Reding stressed this morning the importance of the "digital dividend" for stimulating growth and competition on Europe's telecoms markets. The digital dividend is the additional spectrum that will become available for new wireless and TV services as a result of the switchover from analogue to digital TV, which has started in the EU Member States and is expected to be completed by 2012 (IP/09/266). The Commission believes that the digital dividend gives a welcome boost, in particular for wireless internet broadband services, thereby supporting the EU's "broadband for all" policy, especially in these times of economic downturn. After her meeting with Mr Pataki today, Commissioner Reding highlighted the pivotal role that national spectrum regulators in the RSPG will play over the coming months in turning the digital dividend into a practical reality for the benefit of Europe's economy and citizens.

"Radio spectrum is a resource of huge economic, societal and cultural value, and it the basis for important services such as broadcasting, mobile communications, wireless broadband, navigation and public safety, "said Commissioner Reding this morning."Through the greater co-ordination and by harnessing technological development, Europe is in a unique position to make better use of this resource for economic development."

"As a result of the switchover from analogue to digital TV, tremendous spectrum resources will become available for other uses, especially for wireless broadband. The incremental value of using the digital dividend spectrum for wireless broadband across the EU is estimated to be between €150 – €200 billion. The digital dividend could allow Europe to extend its leadership in electronic communications services, creating growth and jobs, increasing productivity and giving greater access to broadband services for all Europeans."

"To maximise the benefits of the digital dividend, ambitious decisions will be required from policy-makers at European and at national level. The time to act is now. By autumn of this year, Europe must have paved the way for an efficient use of the digital dividend, and the European Commission is prepared to make the necessary recommendations for this."

"Co-ordinated European action on the digital dividend is indispensable, to harness the potential economic and social value and creating economies of scale for equipment and service providers. We also need to avoid a situation where decisions by one EU country negatively influence the use of digital dividend in others. This is why radio spectrum policy in Europe requires close cooperation between national regulators and the European Commission."

"As I announced in November 2008 (MEMO/08/725), the European Commission is working very closely with the Radio Spectrum Policy Group to ensure that the digital dividend will allow Europe's spectrum-based industries to flourish in the interests of growth, jobs and consumer choice. In close consultation with the European Parliament, an ambitious roadmap is being prepared to allow Europe to benefit from the digital dividend as soon as possible. This is also a precursor to the important role that the European Parliament will play in the future in developing a strategic approach to spectrum policy, and which I very much welcome."

"I am glad to see that significant progress is being made in these days by radio spectrum regulators under the Chairmanship of Mr Pataki with whom I had a very promising exchange of strategic thoughts on the matter today. I believe that very important expert views are emerging from the work of national spectrum regulators on which the European Commission will be able to build in the second half of this year. The Radio Spectrum Policy Group is working on a detailed Opinion that will set out the views of regulators and give guidance to the Commission in drawing up its proposals. The working group of the Radio Spectrum Policy Group is meeting today in Dublin, and I am confident that the Radio Spectrum Policy Group meeting in May will approve the draft Opinion. At the same time, the Commission has launched a major study to provide the important technical and economic information to back up our proposals. Our draft recommendations will be published for public consultation in the summer, and will be adopted in the autumn."

"As EU Telecoms Commissioner, I must stress that only improved spectrum policy coordination will guarantee swift and efficient regulatory outcomes."

"During his time at the helm of the European Regulators Group, Mr Pataki has shown his diplomatic skills when ensuring successful results for fair competition, effective regulation and concrete consumer benefits in the whole European Union. I therefore wish Mr. Pataki determination and good luck for his further work. I trust that he, with his strong expertise, his international experience and his independent personality, will succeed in bringing forward a strong and visionary approach on behalf of Europe's Radio Spectrum Regulators on this crucial policy in the interests of effective competition, economic growth and consumer benefits in Europe. "

For further information:

On the Commission's radio spectrum policy:

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ecomm/radio_spectrum/index_en.htm

On the Radio Spectrum Policy Group:

http://rspg.ec.europa.eu/

Video : "What is Radio Spectrum?"

http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ecomm/videos/radio_spec/what_is_rs.swf

Press release of 16 January 2009: "EU Member States on course for analogue terrestrial TV switch-off" (IP/09/266)


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