EC launches ‘digital dividend’ roadmap consultation

Unleashing the full potential of the switchover is on top of the EU’s telecoms policy agenda as the newly available radio spectrum can improve the way we communicate and access audiovisual content. Used efficiently, it will also bring economies of scale and improve the EU’s competitiveness by increasing innovation in equipment and wireless services, as well as by facilitating access to mobile broadband. The Commission has launched a consultation to determine how to better work together at EU level to get the most from this unique opportunity. The consultation will run until 4 September 2009.

Most of the potential uses for the digital dividend are mass consumer services, in both television and mobile broadband. There are huge potential economic benefits in ensuring that the same equipment can operate in the same frequencies across the EU. This will create significant economies of scale for equipment manufacturers and drive down the price, which will in turn stimulate further consumer demand and make these services more accessible.

Appropriate European coordination would increase the potential economic impact of the digital dividend by an additional €20 to €50 billion between now and 2015. In the long run an additional benefit of € 30 billion could be realised beyond 2015 through further EU coordination.

Given that by 2012 digital TV will completely replace analogue transmission and that several Member States want to quickly use the potential of wireless solutions to achieve full broadband access, EU countries need urgently to agree upon a common approach now. The Commission proposes to adopt an EU roadmap – a set of common, coordinated actions outlined in today’s consultation. To ensure that a clear and predictable regulatory environment prevails for regulators and industry alike in making the best use of the digital dividend, the Commission is also considering a plan harmonising the 800 MHz band, particularly suitable for new generations of mobile broadband.

The EU roadmap would outline the benefits of spectrum coordination while giving Member States flexibility to address local and national specificities, for example in broadcasting. The roadmap will also increase the overall availability of radio spectrum beyond what could be achieved by individual Member States and enable the delivery of more affordable and interoperable services.

The Commission will present a final proposal as quickly as possible after the closure of this public consultation.

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See related article: Europe urged to speed-up analog to digital switchover.

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