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Brussels, 11 May 2011

Digital Agenda: Neelie Kroes welcomes European Parliament's support for EU Spectrum Policy proposal

Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, has welcomed the adoption of the European Parliament's position at first reading on the proposal for a Decision establishing a Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP). The Commission presented the RSPP proposal in September 2010 (see MEMO/10/425) to ensure spectrum is available in Europe to support EU policies, and in particular wireless communications, and forms part of a package of measures to promote the roll-out and take-up of fast and ultra-fast broadband networks (see IP/10/1142). The Parliament's position marks a significant step in the adoption of the programme, which must be implemented urgently so that a more coordinated and efficient use of spectrum in the EU can promote the development of innovative technologies and services, particularly high speed wireless broadband. Wireless broadband is essential to deliver the targets of basic broadband for all by 2013 and fast broadband for all by 2020, key goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200.

Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda said: "I warmly welcome the position adopted by the Parliament which supports and strengthens the ambitions of this programme to set up a Single Market for wireless technologies and services. The Radio Spectrum Policy Programme is essential to ensure the crucial "wireless" element necessary to offer high speed broadband access to everyone in Europe. I now look forward to a speedy and constructive discussion between the Parliament and the EU's Council of Ministers with a view to definitive adoption of the proposal by the end of 2011."

The Commission's proposal for a Decision by the European Parliament and Council to establish a five year policy programme would promote efficient radio spectrum management and, in particular, ensure that sufficient spectrum is made available by 2013 for wireless broadband (which would significantly contribute bringing fast broadband connections to people in remote areas and to make innovative services available across Europe).

The Commission has in particular proposed that EU countries should complete by 2012 the process of giving licences to operators to use spectrum bands which have already been technically harmonised at EU level for the use of wireless broadband, (the 900/1800 MHz bands, the 2.5 GHz band and the 3.4 – 3.8 GHz band). In addition, EU countries are asked to open up the 800 MHz band (see IP/10/540) to wireless broadband by 1st January 2013, while foreseeing possible derogations in exceptional cases. The 800 MHz spectrum band is part of the digital dividend i.e. the radio frequencies freed up by the move from analogue to digital television broadcasting.

The proposal not only protects the existence of valuable cultural and economic services, especially audiovisual media services, but also ensures their future development. Efficient and competitive use of spectrum in the EU will also support innovation in other policy areas and sectors such as transport and the environment.

Services which rely on radio spectrum represent 2% to 2.5 % of annual EU gross domestic product, i.e. more than €250 billion according to a study undertaken for the Commission. This includes the European wireless electronic communications industry which supports 3.5 million jobs, generates around €130 billion annually in tax revenues and contributes € 140 billion directly to European GDP.

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