The 700 MHz band (694-790 MHz) should be repurposed for wireless broadband by around 2020 give or take two years, providing sufficient lead time to ensure a stable period of transition for broadcasters.

This is one of the findings of a report submitted to European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes by former commissioner Pascal Lamy on how to use the Ultra High Frequency (UHF) spectrum most effectively in the coming decades.

As part of his "2020-2030-2025" plan that aims to fulfil the broadband targets set out in the EU’s Digital Agenda, Lamy also proposed that regulatory security and stability for terrestrial broadcasters in the remaining UHF spectrum below 700 MHz should be safeguarded until 2030, with a review carried out by 2025 to assess technology and market developments.

"For too long the broadband and broadcasting communities have been at loggerheads about the use of the UHF spectrum band. There have been many different views and perspectives. On the basis of discussions with the two sectors, I have put forward a single scheme that could provide a way forward for Europe to thrive in the digital century,” Lamy said.

The report was broadly welcomed in an initial reaction from the GSM Association, although the organisation - which promotes the interests of mobile operators globally – called for the process to be carried out even sooner than set out in Lamy’s report.

“To close the gap with North America and Asia, we believe it is essential that Member States have flexibility to move sooner, preferably between 2018 and 2020 and potentially earlier, to respond to the sustained growth in mobile data traffic,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General of the GSMA.

The GSMA was also concerned that the report’s recommendations on the sub-700 MHz (470-694 MHz) band “could put Europe at a competitive disadvantage compared to other regions”, and called for a review by 2020 rather than by 2025.

“We respectfully ask the European Commission to adopt a long-term strategy for the sub-700 MHz band that allows individual Member States to decide whether to keep traditional broadcast services in the spectrum or to provide more spectrum for mobile broadband to expand social and economic opportunity throughout Europe,” Bouverot said.