EC approves rules to harmonise and deliver the potential of the digital dividend

The European Commission (EC) has today, 28 October 2009, given its approval to a Recommendation and a Communication to the European parliament and to the Council, drawing up a roadmap for the coordination of the Digital Dividend, following a public consultation on this issue which the EC launched in July 2009.

In its draft recommendation, the EC calls upon Member States to take the measures required to ensure that all digital terrestrial television broadcasting services use digital transmission technology, ceasing the use of analogue transmission technology by 01 January 2012. As such, Member States should support regulatory efforts towards harmonised conditions for the use of the 790-862 MHz sub-band by non-broadcasting electronic communication services and refrain from any action that would hinder the deployment of these services in this sub-band.

In its Communication, the Commission outlines a set of proposals for a common approach to the digital dividend in Europe, so that immediate progress can be made on the urgent challenges – such as the switch-off of analogue transmissions scheduled for 1 January 2012 and the establishment of harmonised technical conditions for the use of the 790-862 MHz sub-band by other electronic communication services, as cited by the Recommendation - while allowing for adequate preparation for the key strategic and longer term issues that must be decided together, to achieve potentially greater availability of the digital dividend in terms of both size and possibilities of use.

The document emphasises the potential of the digital dividend to stimulate the deployment of new services, including next generation broadband mobile services, representing a unique opportunity for Europe to meet the growing demand for radio spectrum, particularly to provide wireless broadband to rural areas, thereby bridging the digital divide, and to support the development of terrestrial broadcasting.

It is therefore essential, according to the European Commission, that this window of opportunity is used to ensure an appropriate level of coordination in the European Union to reap the full social and economic benefits possible from access to this spectrum, and to provide a clear EU roadmap for Member States moving ahead at different speeds as a result of differing national circumstances.

The Commission therefore invited the European Parliament and the Council to give their views on these policy proposals for a coordinated approach to the digital dividend. Afterwards, the Commission intends to integrate elements of the proposals into the wider spectrum action programme to be submitted in 2010.

In addition, and as a matter of urgency, the Commission will submit to the Radio Spectrum Committee (RSC) for regulatory opinion its proposal for the technical harmonisation of the 790-862 MHz sub-band for electronic communications services.

Finally, Member States will also be invited to report to the Commission, by mid-2010, on the progress made towards the timely switch-off of analogue broadcasting.

Further information:

  • Digital dividend