The European Commission has today published its "First Annual Report on Radio Spectrum Policy in the European Union: State of Implementation and Outlook" (COM(2004)507), in accordance with the Radio Spectrum Decision (676/2002/EC).

The report lists the actions that were undertaken since 24 April 2002, and makes some forward-looking statements, including the following:

Technical Measures will, in the short term, be adopted for harmonisation of the use of spectrum for automotive radars, for radio-LANs and for third generation mobile communications (work on Ultra-Wide Band, Short-Range Devices and on updating regulations on Terrestrial Flight Telephone System will take longer to complete). The European Commission also expresses its intent to request the European Parliament and the Council to withdraw the ERMES Directive (paging), and to provide for new harmonised uses for this band (169 MHz).

Spectrum Policy Issues will also be taken forward. The European Commission notably states that it will assess the need for Community action on trading of spectrum rights, and it indicates that the work will be finalised on digital broadcasting switch-over and on how to optimally use the spectrum made available by this technological transition. In addition, a new Request for Opinion will be issued by the European Commission to the RSPG on wireless platforms. This is intended to promote a forward-looking strategic vision for the spectrum needs of current and new technologies, such as GSM, 3G, RLAN, etc., with the objective of improving the coherence of decisions on individual services in the European Union.

The RSPG is also given a mandate to continue assessing the possible benefits and difficulties associated with different spectrum management models, and the Annual Report refers to what it calls traditional centralised administrative decisions, market-oriented solutions and unlicensed use of spectrum.

The Annual Report contains a strong statement on pan-European experimentation, which is quoted in full below:

"A reflection on how to encourage innovation in the Community via more flexible regulation on experimental rights to use the radio spectrum is needed. Large-scale real-life testing of new technologies enables their rapid introduction in the market-place, with provisions to protect existing spectrum users from unforeseen harmful effects. Without an appropriate framework for Community-wide experimental rights, new wireless technologies are increasingly being tested and introduced outside Europe first. Furthermore, the coexistence in the radio spectrum of very different technologies leads to difficulties in the development of regulation exclusively on the basis of theoretical interference models. Therefore, practical measurement campaigns ought to be used to validate such models."

The full text of the Annual Report can be accessed by clicking here.

In addition, following the Workshop on Spectrum Trading which was held on 15 July 2004 (it was attended by T-REGS; please contact Yves Blondeel for details), the European Commission is inviting interested parties to send their comments about the workshop and about the consultancy report to it by 15 Sep 2004.