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European Mobile Broadcasting Council issues final recommendations for mobile TV adoption in Europe

The European Mobile Broadcasting Council (EMBC), an organization set up last summer to examine whether specific regulatory action should be taken by the European Commission (EC) to propel mobile broadcasting across the European Union (EU), recently issued its final report, stating that it sees no need for such legislation.

Instead, it recommends that the EC adapt its current legislation for electronic communications on a case-by-case basis to address challenges of the implementation of mobile television in the different EU member countries. The main reason cited by the group for this recommendation was the "technology neutral" approach of the current electronic communications regulatory framework, which aims not to favor any one technology over another.

A key area addressed in the report was the allocation of spectrum for mobile broadcasting services in the EU. Acknowledging that the allocation would likely be dictated by market needs, the EMBC recommended that the EC, along with EU member states and national regulatory authorities, ensure that spectrum rights, when attributed, are done so "through a transparent process." It also asked that authorities to address potential interference issues among mobile and other broadcast services; identify spectrum to facilitate the introduction of mobile broadcasting services; ensure that the spectrum has "sufficient bandwidth in [the] appropriate bands, including timelines for its availability;" and make sure that "no undue obstacles or delays are placed to potential mobile broadcasting service operators in securing suitable spectrum."

The EMBC found sufficient flexibility in the "international regulatory framework" for mobile TV services to be included on the UHF and VHF bands, as well as in portions of the UMTS S-UMTS band. As for the L-band, it expressed support for a harmonization effort of the lower part of the band already mandated by the EU regulations.

In a speech given at this year's International CeBIT Summit in Hanover, Germany, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media Viviane Reding expressed disappointment with the EMBC's recommendations, calling them "too consensual" and stating that the EU needed "one clear, coherent EU strategy for all industries involved to invest and create the conditions of a large [adoption] of mobile TV."

Reding also mentioned that she was "prepared to give strong support to European standardized solutions, such as DVB-H" but only if they were clear about licensing terms and conditions.

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