Draft Opinion on the Commission’s proposal for a decision on the use of the 470-790 MHz band in the EU, adopted in EP Committee

European Parliament, 25 April 2016 – The Committee on Culture and Education formulated its Draft Opinion for the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the use of the 470-790 MHz frequency band in the Union. The Rapporteur, whilst welcoming the Commission's commitment to accommodate the specific needs for audiovisual media distribution, raised some concerns in this opinion around three major issues:

  • the deadline for the repurposing of the 700 MHz band: Moving DTT services out of the 700MHz band is a major challenge, in particular for those Member States where DTT is the main platform to receive television. Most Member States have licensed spectrum in the 700 MHz band for broadcasting beyond 2020. By setting a strict deadline for clearing the 700 MHz band from DTT by 30 June 2020, the Commission takes away the extra time needed by some Member States. In that context, the Rapporteur suggests extending this deadline to 31 December 2022 in order to provide enough time for all Member States to ensure the availability of the 700 MHz band for mobile use. This follows the suggestion made in the Lamy report (2020 +/- two years).
  • the introduction of a ‘flexibility option' to deploy alternative technologies in the sub-700 MHz band, i.e. for downlink only terrestrial wireless broadband electronic communications services, is not necessary at this point in time and suggests that this option should be deleted from the proposal, the sub-700 MHz should continue to be used for digital broadcasting at least until the end of 2030 with a review planned in 2025. The Rapporteur also considers that such an option would first require careful studying and testing and that it should only be considered in the long term if it is found to be compatible with broadcasting in the Member State in question as well as being clearly backed by market demand. The Rapporteur's suggestions are in line with the ‘20-25-30' conclusions of the Lamy report in that respect.
  • the issue of migration costs and interference: Releasing the 700 MHz from broadcasting services requires technical changes to the DTT network because of the change of frequencies. Consumers will have to change their equipment at home and broadcasters will need to make changes to their infrastructure. This means further costs. Furthermore, previous experience from the clearance of the 800 MHz showed that there may be interference to broadcasting services in adjacent bands. It is essential to ensure that DTT will be safeguarded and protected from harmful interference. In that context, the Rapporteur suggests that Member states should ensure timely availability of sufficient funds to cover the migration costs and the costs associated with the measures to limit interference to broadcasting services as well as concrete guarantees/mechanisms to avoid harmful interference from mobile use in the 700 MHz band with broadcasting and PMSE services below 694 MHz.

Read the whole document on the European Parliament's website, here

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