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European Parliament approves push for fast mobile Internet

European Council to examine plan by end of month

The European Parliament approved plans Wednesday to clear the 800MHz frequency band for mobile broadband Internet. The goal is to cover Europe with mobile broadband and make it as fast as Ethernet.

The Parliament approval of the plan means that by Jan. 1, 2013, all European Union countries have to clear the 800MHz spectrum for use of mobile broadband.

Right now this spectrum is used for, among other things, wireless microphones in the U.K. and digital TV in the Netherlands. These services have to move to another frequency.

Marietje Schaake, a Member of Parliament (MEP) for the European ALDE party who worked on the radio spectrum policy, said in an e-mailed statement she was not worried that E.U. countries were going to have problems clearing the 800MHz band.

"As long as affected sectors receive enough support to move to another frequency, I welcome this new European frequency plan," she said.

The push for mobile broadband is part of European Commissioner Neelie Kroes' digital agenda. She aims to cover all of Europe with fast broadband Internet, but without providing fast mobile connections it is not possible to do this for rural areas. By 2020 every European should have access to 30M bps (bits per second) connections, according to the plan.

"Bringing fast broadband web access to all European citizens and businesses, including those located in rural areas or on remote islands, is impossible without wireless internet, which needs dedicated radio frequencies for uninterrupted connection," according to a European Parliament statement Tuesday.

The allocation of frequencies is a matter for national authorities. If an E.U. country has problems implementing the frequency change it can ask for a postponement until the end of 2015.

After 2013 the Parliament also wants to use the 1.5GHz and 2.3GHz bands for mobile broadband. By 2015 the spectrum allocated for mobile data traffic should reach at least 1200MHz.

The E.U. may at some point also discuss whether other frequency bands, such as the 700MHz band, should be freed for the mobile Internet.

Although the Parliament approved the mobile broadband plan, there is no agreement yet on a final draft with the European Council, which comprises E.U. heads of state. The European Council will discuss the plan on May 27.


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