Ever thought about how your mobile, smartphone, or WiFi works? Ever been frustrated when you can’t get a signal? Ever wondered when your hometown will finally hook up to superfast 4G networks?
To all of the above, the answer lies in radio spectrum. It’s not something most people are aware of most of the time – but it, and the way it’s managed, is responsible for so much underpinning our everyday lives.
In today’s world, so many new innovations rely on high-bandwidth communication that’s on demand, instant, available wherever. And that will only increase in future: think of music streaming, cloud computing, or the Internet of Things. And in that world, radio spectrum is economic oxygen.
But the wireless revolution means we are putting more and more demands on our spectrum. Mobile broadband is growing exponentially; doubling every year, it could soon reach over one trillion megabytes per month in Europe. Old ways of allocating spectrum can’t cope with that, and that’s a huge technical and political challenge.
The EU’s radio spectrum policy programme is our way of finding coherent and coordinated responses to deal with this. And today we launch one of the first initiatives within that programme – a proposal on “spectrum sharing” (basically, where two or more entities arrange to share a given “chunk” of spectrum).
Today’s proposal is an essential part of the solution to dealing with the wireless crunch – without interfering with existing rights or downgrading quality of service, but rather by using new technical possibilities to create a secondary market for spectrum rights.
And it’s not just any market, but a single market: ensuring that any kind of wireless device can work, wherever you travel in the EU.