Pointing to the surge in smart phone traffic that is rapidly depleting scarce spectrum resources throughout the European Union (EU), the European Commission (EC) urged national regulators on Monday to promote spectrum sharing as a means of boosting broadband service capacity. EC spokesman Ryan Heath noted during a press briefing that the sharing proposal was spurred in part by the inherent inefficiencies of the EU’s radiofrequency regime in which “spectrum right now is . . . broken up in incredibly tiny parts spread across 27 different member states.” Another contributing factor to the spectrum crunch, added EC Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes, is the failure of national spectrum regulation to account for technological development and innovation, “leaving mobile and broadband users at risk of poor service as demand grows.” Under the EC’s proposal, non-licensed entities would be permitted to negotiate spectrum sharing agreements with incumbent carriers. According to the EC, such agreements would be subject to national regulatory approval and would also enable incumbents to recoup their network construction costs. The EC’s non-binding proposal mirrors the terms of recent fourth-generation wireless auctions that were held in France and in which French authorities required the auction winners to offer wholesale network access to mobile virtual network operators. (Sources also indicate that Hutchison of Hong Kong recently agreed to similar terms in its quest to win regulatory approval of its proposed acquisition of Orange Austria.) Acknowledging that “exclusive license holders have . . . paid a significant premium to obtain their licenses,” Heath said that the EC is “looking for incentives to encourage incumbents to share their spectrum” rather than forcing such sharing through regulation. Heath also pointed to the possibility of additional harmonized license-exempt spectrum for Wi-Fi networks in the 5 GHz band, explaining that “these and other frequencies used for short-range devices might be expanded depending on the outcome of technical sharing studies and the potential for congestion.”