The Electronic Communications Committee (ECC), the expert group responsible for harmonising the efficient use of the radio spectrum across Europe, has agreed a draft Decision for the harmonised use of the 700 MHz range (694-790 MHz).

The draft decision provides a common technical framework for those countries which decide to implement mobile networks in the 700 MHz frequency range in the shorter term, providing confidence for manufacturers to meet the market demand across Europe.

However, this decision is not being positioned as an allocation measure to designate the frequencies for a single purpose in all 48 CEPT member countries. Rather it enables those countries that need to implement wireless broadband (commonly termed Mobile Fixed Communication Networks, or ‘MFCN’) to move ahead with the necessary frequency coordination negotiations with neighbouring countries, and the reengineering of broadcast networks, with a set of generic technical conditions already in place.

This follows the resolution of a related Report by the ECC (CEPT Report 53) to the European Commission in response to its mandate to develop harmonised technical conditions for the 694-790 MHz (700 MHz) frequency band in the EU for the provision of wireless broadband.

A policy debate is taking place at the EU level on a possible deadline to allocate the bands to mobile. However, even if such a move were agreed it would inevitably take time to become fully effective across all of Europe, given the differences of the market conditions across the EU28, and the time that would be taken to negotiate and complete the numerous rearrangements of television services which currently occupy these frequencies.

Europe’s wireless broadband 700 channelling plan is fully compatible with the one designed by the Asia Pacific region. Different constraints in Europe mean that the paired up- and downlink bands are not as wide, but this gives a significant dividend in the ‘centre-gap’ between the two sub-bands, and in the guard bands just outside the paired range. Therefore, this draft ECC Decision sets out a common framework for those countries that wish to implement an associated ‘supplemental downlink’ for wireless broadband services. This additional provision also enables varying national decisions on how to use the centre gap.

The ECC approved the final version of this draft ECC Decision at its 38th Plenary Meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, on November 25-28, 2014.

The draft decision is now available for public consultation. The deadline for responses is January 12, 2015.