Europe's new study on repurposing the 700 MHz spectrum

European Commission Room - photo by JLogan
Neal Romanek
March 2nd 2016 at 10:16AM : By Neal Romanek

The report, carried out by LS telcom and VVA, looked at the effect of changes in spectrum allocation for the 700MHz band

LS telcom and policy consulting service VVA have completed a study for the European Commission (EC) on repurposing the 700MHz spectrum. The partners have produced a report called 'Economic and Social Impact of Repurposing the 700 MHz band for Wireless Broadband Services in the European Union'.

Published last week, the European Commissioni is using the analysis to develop its Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the use of the 470-790MHz frequency band across the European Union.
The study examined the future use of the UHF television band including the so-called 700 MHz band (694 - 790 MHz) which was identified for IMT (International Mobile Telecommunications) usage at the recent ITU World Radiocommunication Conference. It followed a 2014 report in Europe authored by Pascal Lamy, former Director-General of the WTO, who had proposed a number of options for the band with varying degrees of flexibility in the use of the spectrum below the 700 MHz band, ranging from retaining its use for digital television, to converting the whole band for mobile broadband use.

LS telcom and VVA examined various technical options for continuing DTT services without the 700 MHz band. They concluded that without detailed multi-lateral negotiations between neighbouring EU countries, there was little likelihood that existing services could be accommodated in the remaining UHF spectrum. Instead, the study team proposed a move of all EU countries to the use of the DVB-T2 standard using either MPEG-4 or HEVC video encoding.

The move to a new standard would require the replacement of any non-compliant set-top boxes. Some countries are already using DVB-T2/MPEG-4 and many television receivers being sold already have this capability. The costs of replacing the remaining non-compliant receivers would be dependent upon the timing of any change over, said the report.

The social and economic impact on the broadcasting industry was also considered. The implementation of a policy which would provide security of tenure for broadcasting services in the UHF band has benefits for the industry and would encourage innovation. Using spectrum in a flexible way, either for broadcasting or wireless broadband services, if carefully defined - for example, through a by CEPT (European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations) report - may offer broadcasters benefits in being able to integrate broadcasting and broadband services into the same spectrum, the report claimed. 

The impact on PMSE (Programme making and special events) services using the UHF band was also assessed. In any of the options under consideration, some PMSE uses (e.g. radio microphones and in-ear monitors) would be displaced and require updated equipment. The social and economic impact to the PMSE industry could be mitigated to a large extent, if alternative spectrum could be found for their continued operation.

Repurposing the 700 MHz band is a potential boon for the wireless broadband industry. All of the options considered open up the 700 MHz band for new services across the EU and the opportunity for services with wide area coverage.

You can download a PDF of the report from the European Commission website. 

Executive summaries of the report are also available.

Summary in English
Summary in German
Summary in French


photo by JLogan