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IRIS 2010-1:Extra

European Commission

Recommendation on the Release of the Digital Dividend in the EU

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David Korteweg

Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

In a recent Recommendation the European Commission encourages the Member States to urgently undertake two actions, in order to guarantee that the switch-over from analogue to digital broadcasting takes place in a coherent manner and ensure a coordinated approach towards the digital dividend.

The Recommendation was adopted in conjunction with a Communication by the Commission on 28 October 2010 (see IRIS 2010-1:0/120).

First, it recommends that Member States fully switch over from analogue to digital transmission technology by 1 January 2012. Secondly, Member States are encouraged to support a harmonised regulatory approach towards the use of the 790-862 Mhz sub-band for electronic communications services. Therefore, the Commission recommends that Member States refrain from any actions that could hinder the use of communications services in that particular sub-band.

The Commission stresses the importance of the urgency of the digital switchover as a stimulus for the European economy through the provision of available spectrum for the development of new wireless and broadband services. It also stresses the importance of a coordinated approach towards the digital dividend to secure the development of a single market for these new services and to fully reap the socio-economic benefits.

In response to the Opinion of 18 September 2009 by the Radio Spectrum Policy Group, the Commission plans to adopt a Decision that will set the technical requirements for the future use of the 790-862 Mhz sub-band for low and medium-power electronic communications networks. The Commission also recognises that different national contexts and legacy situations require a gradual and flexible approach towards the digital switchover and the allocation of the spectrum. Therefore, the Member States are only obliged to apply the proposed harmonised technical requirements if they decide to open the sub-band for services other than broadcasting.

Recommendation from the Commission, “Facilitating the release of the digital dividend in the European Union”, 28 October 2009, 2009/848/EC, OJ L 308, 24 November 2009 EN
“Radio Spectrum Policy Group Opinion on the Digital Dividend”, 18 September 2009, RSPG09-291 EN