LONDON European Union telecommunications ministers have endorsed the EC's proposals to open radio frequencies, initially allocated to GSM mobile phone services, to other technologies including 3G. However, they only partially backed proposals to mandate DVB-H as the technology of choice in Europe for mobile TV.
The proposals to open up GSM frequencies for 3G networks, outlined in July , would, in effect, repeal the GSM Directive of 1987, which helped make GSM such a success in Europe. The directive is now felt to be out of date as it prevents more advanced wireless technologies from using the reserved spectrum.
The aim is to allow European network operators to use the 900MHz and 18000MHz bands more efficiently, increasing the number and choice of wireless services available and expanding their geographic coverage.
It means 3G services may soon be allowed on the radio spectrum currently being used for GSM networks. The third generation technology employs the higher frequency 2100MHz range.
Studies by the GSM Association, the global trade body for the mobile phone industry, have shown a 3G network in the 900MHz band would achieve up to 40 percent greater coverage than one in the 2,100MHz band at the same cost.
The proposal now needs to be approved by the European Parliament before ministers give their final green light.
The partial backing to a controversial proposal by Viviene Reding, EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media, to mandate DVB-H as the technology of choice for mobile TV, is a setback for the Commissioner. Her strong endorsement has upset the backers of alternative specifications for delivering TV to mobiles, such as those based on DMB, digital audio broadcasting (DAB) technology or the MediaFLO specification promoted by Qualcomm.
Ministers also agreed to work closely to make available spectrum for mobile TV services, possibly in the UHF frequency bands.
"European mobile TV is a step closer to success following today's endorsement by the Council of the Commission's strategy for creating economies of scale in this important sector," said Reding. "This shows that political resolve and market developments are in tune to ensure this potentially multi-billion Euro market is on the right track by mid-2008."
Reding called for the "minority of governments" who are still reluctant, partly for internal reasons, to endorse DVB-H as European standard to join the majority quickly. "The more Member States participate actively, the better Europe will be in achieving the required critical mass to become a world leader in mobile TV," the Commissioner stressed.