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Parliament Magazine: Leading the wireless revolution

Leading the wireless revolution

Mobile internet solutions and wireless technologies are rapidly transforming our societies and economies. The demand for mobile data traffic has recently exploded, growing by over 100 percent every year, and new services within telecommunications, healthcare, energy and logistics sectors are improving the lives of billions of people. We can only try to imagine the societal and economic opportunities that future technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things will bring in the wireless revolution.

My ambition with the radio spectrum policy programme is to make Europe the home of this wireless revolution. I want Europe to lead the process of change, creating the best opportunities for a competitive European knowledge economy characterized by vitality, change and innovation.

The spectrum programme should lay the foundations for a development whereby the Union can take the lead in issues relating to broadband speeds, mobility, coverage and capacity. Global leadership is essential to establish a competitive digital single market which will serve to open up the internal market for all EU citizens. A European market with nearly 500 million people connected to high-speed broadband would act as a catalyst for the development of the internal market, giving each user increased value and the Union the capacity to be a world-leading knowledge-based economy.

I have raised the ambitions in the spectrum programme because I want Europe to be the best. And in order to be the best we must secure we give the best opportunities for industry, entrepreneurs, customers and users. We cannot make a change without a change!

First of all, I have proposed that Member States adhere to the 2013 deadline for opening up the 800 MHz band for electronic communications services. The 800 MHz band must get cleared for mobile broadband services and derogations should therefore only be authorised in exceptional cases.

Secondly, I propose to free up additional spectrum for wireless broadband services, amounting to at least 1200 MHz by 2015. To achieve this ambitious target I propose to open up additional spectrum bands for wireless broadband services in the 1.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz band.

Thirdly, I have initiated a debate around the 700 MHz band asking the Commission to monitor the capacity requirements for mobile broadband in order to assess if further spectrum harmonisations will be needed.

Finally, I have proposed to extend the allocations of unlicensed spectrum in the higher frequency bands in order to stimulate the use of WiFi.

All political groups in the Industry Committee supported my proposals when the spectrum report was voted in April. Courageous political decisions are now needed if we want Europe to become a global leader in the digital economy and it is now up to Member States to show in negotiations with parliament that they are able to contribute to the change we need in order to make Europe the best and the home for the next telecom revolution.

If we do not set ourselves ambitious targets now, and if we only aim to be the world’s number three, the wireless revolution will happen outside the EU. New services, innovations and knowledge will instead come from China, India or other emerging countries. The radio spectrum program will then be a lost opportunity for Europe to regain its global leadership in the ICT sector. This would be very bad news for our efforts to create the world’s most competitive knowledge economy. We can make the change we need.

Gunnar Hökmark

Gunnar Hökmark is vice president of the EPP Group and responsible for the European Parliament’s Report on the Radio Spectrum Programme

Full article.