Yesterday, European Union (EU) lawmakers approved plans to allocate 700 MHz frequencies currently used for digital television and wireless microphone services for fifth generation (5G) wireless broadband services, while setting a goal of completing an EU-wide rollout of 5G services in the 700 MHz band by 2022. 

The vote paves the way toward negotiations between the European Parliament (EP) and EU member states on the ratification of a final spectrum agreement, upon which the proposal will take the effect of law.  As specified in the plan, member states would be required to allocate spectrum in the 694 MHz-790 MHz band for wireless broadband use by June 30, 2020.  That deadline may be extended up to two years to accommodate unresolved spectrum coordination issues with neighboring non-EU countries or if additional time is needed to transfer spectrum resources from television broadcasters.   

In remarks to the press, Gunnar Hokmark, the Swedish representative of the European People’s Party who spearheaded the legislation, termed the spectrum plan “a first and very important step forward” in introducing 5G services throughout the EU, which “will change the logic of our economies.”  Emphasizing that “Europe needs to ensure enough spectrum is allocated to mobile broadband in order to cope with future data traffic needs,” a spokeswoman for ENTO—a trade group representing Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, Orange and other EU network operators—asserted:  “this overarching goal should be at the heart of the final [700 MHz] band decision.”