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European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

Neelie KROES

Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda

Future of the UHF radio spectrum band

Press conference High Level Group on the UHF radio spectrum band

Brussels, 13 January 2014

We have just come from the first meeting of the informal High Level Group on the future of the UHF radio spectrum band.

I am particularly grateful that Pascal Lamy has agreed to chair the Group, which is a sign of the importance of this issue for culture and business in Europe. If there is anyone who can broker an agreement between two important sectors it is Pascal.

Broadcasting and broadband are converging, and expectations are changing. The challenge now is to facilitate high-quality online content, supplied over fast broadband networks.

We want Europe to find a way forward that delivers for all: both more and better television and more and better broadband.

And these decisions matter for Europe; Europe needs to use spectrum more effectively if we want to benefit from the latest TV and internet developments. That's why we need a new consensus on how to use broadcast spectrum, and that’s why I made the coordination of broadband spectrum a central feature of our effort to build a telecoms single market.

Sometimes this debate can be rather sterile. The discussion on the 800 Megahertz band, which has already been released for mobile broadband, showed that the old battle lines are still there. We are trying to find a way forward, and a path towards a more constructive, beneficial outcome.

There has been much discussion about what would happen to the 700 Megahertz band. And important decisions will be taken in the ITU in late 2015, at the so-called WRC Conference. Well before that, Europe needs to know where we are going on this issue.

And for that, we need to have a wider view about the future needs and use of broadcasting as well as broadband, and the use of the UHF band as a whole.

There is no doubt about the importance of broadband data for our economy, for our citizens, for jobs. But the most significant use of broadband data at the moment is video content, and broadcasters and programme makers are adapting significantly to adjust to this.

The High level Group will be crucial in helping us to identify the way forward, and that is the challenge set for Pascal Lamy.

So I pass the floor to Pascal


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