Europe Adopts Technical Rules for Rural Mobile Broadband

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The European Commission announced on Monday that it has adopted uniform technical rules for mobile broadband in the 800MHz band.

The 800MHz band's signal propagation requires less infrastructure to provide wide mobile coverage than high-frequency bands, meaning that mobile broadband can be provided in rural areas at lower cost, according to industry organization GSM Association. The band also offers better indoor coverage than existing 3G services.

The adoption of the uniform technical rules will help avoid interference that could have a negative impact on performance, according to a statement from the Commission.

The decision opens up the possibility for a pan-European introduction of mobile broadband -- using, for example, LTE (Long-Term Evolution) -- in low frequency bands, telecommunications equipment vendor Ericsson said in a statement.

In addition to LTE, the Commission also highlights WiMAX as an option.

Before services can be offered, however, analog TV services have to be turned off, and the last countries are scheduled to do that by the end of 2012. So far, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Sweden have stopped analog TV services, according to the Commission.

The Commission said its rules don't require member states to make spectrum available for mobile broadband. However, it is considering such a proposal in the forthcoming Radio Spectrum Policy Programme, which is likely to be presented to the European Parliament and the European Council by June or July.

Europe has lost its lead in mobility as North American and Asian users snap up smartphones and mobile applications. However, if Europe and the European Commission take a strong position on mobile broadband for rural areas it could recapture some of that leadership, according to Mark Newman , chief research officer at Informa Telecoms and Media.

The recent German frequency auction highlighted operator interest in the 800MHz. Bids for spectrum in the 800MHz band are now about 35 times higher than those for spectrum in the 2.6GHz band, according to data from Bundesnetzagentur, the German regulator.

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