EBU warns WRC on spectrum policy

European Broadcasting Union (EBU) members have warned that the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme’s (RSPP) balanced approach in spectrum management might be put at risk at this year’s World Radio Conference (WRC-12) which is currently taking place in Geneva. The RSPP – to be approved this week by the European Parliament – is Europe’s five-year policy programme to strategically plan and harmonise the use of spectrum in order to ensure the functioning of the internal market.

According to the EBU, the RSPP proposals strike a fair balance: mobile operators are able to increase wireless data traffic, while Member States, in cooperation with the EU Commission, must ensure sufficient spectrum availability for broadcasting services. EBU Members will therefore be able to continue to deliver and develop new innovative services and applications for EU audiences on terrestrial platforms.

“With the RSPP, the EU has adopted a balanced approach in spectrum management. This approach should not be put at risk during ongoing parallel discussions at this year’s World Radio Conference in Geneva,” said Jean-Paul Philippot, President of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Although not in the original WRC-12 agenda, but after pressure from the African and Arab regional administrations, delegations at the World Radio Conference are currently looking to allocate the 700MHz band (694Mhz to 790 MHz) to mobile services, advises the EBU, suggesting that such a decision would cause “considerable problems” in Europe, where the 700MHz band is heavily used for terrestrial broadcasting with, in many cases, long-term licensing arrangements in place.

“It would cause considerable disruption, additional expense and loss of services for millions of viewers across Europe,” warns the EBU. “Broadcasters also consider this band as being crucial to the future development of innovative new terrestrial services.”

The EBU points out that the RSPP instead refers to existing spectrum legislation, the EU Telecom Package, and urges future spectrum policies to be in line with its core message: spectrum is a scarce public good which must be managed with ‘special attention’, striking a balance between economic, cultural and social values in the public interest.

The EBU also supports the idea of a European Spectrum Inventory as proposed by the RSPP. “The inventory should identify spectrum bands where efficient use of spectrum could be improved, re-allocated and/or shared. The inventory would also look at possible future spectrum needs of all services. Any mobile allocation in the 700 MHz band may preclude the outcome of the spectrum inventory,” advises the EBU.

“Efficient use of spectrum is very important for EBU Members, and should be required for all spectrum users. However, it is a complex process. That is why clearly defined and transparent assessment criteria and methodologies are needed for a successful spectrum inventory and review,” concludes the EBU.

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