EC spectrum boost for 5G

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The European Commission has adopted an amending Implementing Decision to harmonise the radio spectrum in the 3.4-3.8 GHz (or 3.6 GHz) band for the future use with 5G. This is necessary to enable Member States to reorganise and allow the use of that band for 5G systems by December 31st 2020 in line with the European Electronic Communications Code.

This decision will enable the take-up of 5G services in the Union. This band has been harmonised for wireless broadband services in the Union since 2008. However, its use has been low and only a limited number of licences has been issued. This amendment of the Decision updates the technical conditions to make them 5G-ready as the 3.6 GHz band has been identified as the primary pioneer band for 5G in the Union.

The Commission’s implementing decisions for the harmonisation of spectrum for wireless broadband electronic communications services are based on the principle of technology and service neutrality. Therefore, no exclusive use for 5G is mandated for the 3.6 GHz band either. 5G will rely in its progressive deployment on the other two pioneer bands in the Union (700 MHz and 26 GHz) until 2020 as well as on further spectrum – both in existing EU-harmonised bands below 6 GHz and new spectrum in the so-called mm-wave bands.

The decision follows a positive opinion by the Member States in the Radio Spectrum Committee, which is chaired by the Commission. In the future, once the new EU Communications Code will enter into force, radio spectrum will be assigned and coordinated even better at EU level than at the moment so that Europe can become a leader in the roll-out of 5G networks. This Decision would be complemented by a similar harmonisation initiative for the pioneer 26 GHz band. The UHF Decision (EU) 2017/899 in force foresees availability of the pioneer 700 MHz band across the Union by mid-2020.


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