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Commission proposes incentives to share radio frequencies

Telecommunication companies should share the radio waves used for mobile and data technologies to prevent a lack of space limiting wireless innovation, according to the European Commission.

The Commission has published a proposal for a common approach across Europe to encourage companies to share the valuable radio wave spectrum by removing regulatory barriers and providing financial incentives.

At present, companies that own sections of the spectrum have little incentive to share them, having paid a high price to secure the space. However, the Commission proposes that companies that do not own spectrum could negotiate sharing deals with those that do and ask national regulators to approve the agreements. Such deals could help operators to recoup some of their network-building costs by sharing spectrum in specific areas or at times of the day when it is vacant.

Some member states already have national provisions for spectrum sharing but an EU-wide approach is needed to maximise economic and technological benefits, says the Commission.

“Radio spectrum is economic oxygen,” said Neelie Kroes, vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe in a statement. “We need a single market for spectrum in order to regain global industrial leadership in mobile and data, to attract more R&D investments.”

The proposal has been made by the Commission as part of the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme for consideration by the European Parliament and the Council.