Mobile Players Vie for European UHF Spectrum

The European economy would grow by an additional €95 billion over the next 20 years if one quarter of the UHF band were reserved for mobile broadband services, a group of mobile-telephony product and service providers said in a joint statement on Monday.

As ultrahigh frequencies are freed up by the switch from analog to digital TV broadcasting, mobile phone companies are angling for a piece of the action in competition with broadcasters and emergency services providers. They are making their case to European lawmakers with the power to allocate the frequencies.

A group of mobile telephony companies including Ericsson, Nokia, Vodafone, Orange and Telefónica funded a study by Spectrum ValuePartners that claims using the UHF bandwidth for mobile consumer services could deliver a windfall to the European economy. The €95 billion (US$147 billion) sum is in addition to the €2.5 trillion generated by the European mobile industry using other spectrum in the same period between 2008 and 2027, the companies said.

Meanwhile, Motorola and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), the two main manufacturers of communications systems used by emergency services, unveiled research on Monday claiming that police and ambulance services are inadequately served with only two blocks of 5MHz of spectrum. The report by WIK-Consult calls for a tripling of the amount of spectrum dedicated to emergency services.

"In an ideal situation, public safety services would have two blocks of 15MHz allocated between 400 MHz and approximately 800 MHz," the report said.

The report, commissioned by Motorola and EADS, says that the current allocation of spectrum is inadequate to meet emergency services' evolving communication needs, and in some cases does not have the capacity to cope with major incidents.

"This report demonstrates that we must look beyond the purely economic benefits of the digital dividend and allocate frequencies that, put simply, could save lives," said Jens Kristiansen, vice president and general manager, TETRA Products & Solutions, Motorola.