European Commission – Spectrum Authorization Reform

The European Commission regards technology and service restrictions as increasingly incompatible with convergence. A trading regime is anticipated that will embrace flexibility, i.e., the right of a spectrum holder to use it for any service subject to technical constraints. Policy in the EU embraces the principles of technological neutrality and service neutrality.

  • Technological neutrality means that there should be minimal constraints applied while ensuring that interference is appropriately dealt with. However, in some cases the necessary interference management imposes constraints that in practice are more beneficial for one technology than for another;
  • Service neutrality means that the choice of service offered via spectrum usage rights is made by the rights holder. It is widely recognized that constraining the services for which the spectrum can be used is generally not justifiable from the standpoint of technical spectrum management. According to the EC, “in the field of terrestrial electronic communications, these categorizations are rapidly becoming obsolete”.

Lack of flexibility in spectrum management has, according to the EC, led to a spectrum bottleneck for new radio technologies. Detailed ex ante administrative decisions and a requirement for prior regulatory approval often delays or even prevents the introduction of new products. To render spectrum distribution more flexible, the application of spectrum markets (secondary trading) and licence-exempt use (“commons” model) have been embraced by the EC in case of spectrum trading; does it apply to all frequency bands? Add link to where this info can be found.

For updates on Spectrum Policy Reform in the EU go to

See also in Section 1.5.2 of this module: The Practice Note on the Review of the European Union Telecommunications Regulatory Framework

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