EBU Proposes Safeguards for Broadcast Spectrum

BRUSSELS—In a report submitted to the European Commission’s High Level Group, the European Broadcasting Union this week expressed concern that spectrum used for broadcasting be protected in light of moves to repurpose portions of the airwaves for wireless broadband.

The European Commission is considering rededicating portions of the UHF 700 MHz band (694-794*) spectrum currently used for terrestrial broadcasting and wireless microphones to wireless broadband, characterizing the 700 MHz band as “prime real estate” in terms of use, capacity and reach. The report details how to protect those broadcasters that are in the band below 700 (470-694), as well as how to manage the UHF spectrum more efficiently.

Former European Commissioner for Trade Pascal Lamy, who wrote the report, proposed a 2020-2030-2025 formula that would take place in three stages. By 2020 (plus or minus two years), the report proposes that—with sufficient lead time—the 700 MHz band currently used by broadcasters and wireless mic users be dedicated to wireless broadband across the European continent. For those broadcasters in the 470-694 MHz spectrum, regulatory security and stability should be safeguarded until 2030, with a review in 2025 to assess technology and market developments.

To maintain stability for broadcasting on the continent, the report proposes that European representatives to the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015, which is scheduled to review global spectrum use rules, reject any plans to allocate the broadcast spectrum below 700 (470-694) to mobile services. It also proposed taking an inventory of UHF spectrum use by 2025.

In accepting the report, Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission said that Lamy’s report “lays down a path for creating capacity for fast wireless broadband everywhere and for ensuring a stable and predictable future for terrestrial broadcasting, while allowing those Member States that want to move forward more quickly to do so. It would also ensure sustainable co-existence, as both sectors focus increasingly on advanced media services. This is essential to secure our changing digital future and hold our own in international negotiations."

*Sept. 5: Corrected from previous version.

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.