UMTS Forum urges EU to fast-track adoption of new GSM Directive

Date: Tue, 05/26/2009 - 17:58 Source: UMTS Forum Press Department

More delays in the adoption of amended GSM Directive and deployment of UMTS 900 will harm Europe’s telecoms industry and slow economic recovery
UMTS Forum urges EU to fast-track adoption of new GSM Directive MWC 2009. Archive image

The UMTS Forum has warned that additional delays in adoption of the amended GSM Directive will slow economic regeneration in Europe.
There is general consensus between the European Parliament, Member States, the EC and the mobile industry that the current GSM Directive seriously impairs the ability of telecommunication operators to offer innovative mobile broadband services.
As a key component of its new Telecoms package, the EU has now reached agreement on a new Directive that will help European operators offer cost-effective mobile broadband services to a fast-growing, geographically dispersed subscriber base.
For the first time, the amended Directive permits the use of frequencies in the 900 MHz band for 3G/UMTS services in all Member States. This relaxation of licensing conditions reduces the costs of rolling out mobile broadband, especially to rural areas and communities where deployment at higher frequencies is more expensive. In turn, this stimulus for additional investment will spur economic activity while helping to create additional jobs across the European zone.
“The new GSM Directive is a critical component of the EU’s goal to achieve 100% high speed Internet coverage for all European citizens by 2010, as part of the European Economic Recovery Plan”, comments UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaimé.
“However, political disagreement over the New Regulatory Framework is now holding the GSM industry hostage on what is essentially an entirely separate political debate. Delay in adopting the new Directive will significantly harm our industry, stifling the unique opportunity that UMTS900 offers for Europe’s economic regeneration and recovery”, adds Bienaimé.
“The European citizens, the European telecommunication industry and the European economy need the amended GSM directive to be adopted as soon as possible”, states Guillaume Lebrun, Chairman of the UMTS Forum Spectrum Aspects Group.
The UMTS Forum believes that it is the responsibility of the Member States, the Council and the Parliament to find a solution to this critical issue. The UMTS Forum therefore urges the Council to decouple the adoption of the amended GSM Directive from the telecom package, and adopt the directive by the time of their upcoming meeting of 12 June 2009. This can be done independently of any unrelated conciliation procedure regarding the New Regulatory Framework.

UMTS 900: delivering the benefits for Europe
In a letter (12 February 2009), the UMTS Forum asked members of the European Council and European Parliament to reach a First Reading agreement on the review of the GSM Directive, allowing the use of the 900 MHz band for 3G/UMTS services.
On 27 March, the Committee of the Permanent Representatives (COREPER) agreed on the amended GSM
Directive. The European Parliament voted on 06 May on the amended GSM Directive as agreed on by the COREPER, without any further amendments. The Council is now due to agree on the amended GSM Directive to finalise the approval process.
Mobile broadband access has been recognized as key factor for economic national competitiveness and reduction of the digital divide between urban and rural areas in Europe. UMTS in the 900 MHz band (UMTS900) provides the opportunity to expand 3G mobile broadband into smaller towns, villages and rural areas in an economically efficient manner. UMTS900 also improves indoor coverage in all areas, including cities. Having 3G mobile broadband operators with nationwide and improved indoor coverage further enhances competitiveness and broadband development of European countries.
More than 120 UMTS900 enabled handsets already available from a number of manufacturers and infrastructure equipment rolled out in at least 7 countries on a global basis. CEPT has undertaken detailed technical studies that demonstrate the compatible operation of UMTS with GSM in the 900 MHz band.
Some European Member States – including Estonia and Finland – have already started UMTS900 operations, while France and other countries have allowed deployment of UMTS in the 900 MHz band under the regulation of the current GSM Directive. However, other countries are still awaiting new and clear measures by policy makers with regard to UMTS900.
The UMTS Forum’s letter to the EC and European Parliament stressed the importance of a coherent framework across all Member States to reduce regulatory uncertainties regarding mobile broadband deployment.

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