The Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP) defines the roadmap for how Europe can translate political priorities into strategic policy objectives for radio spectrum use.
Adoption of the first Radio Spectrum Policy Programme
On 14 March 2012, the European Parliament and Council approved the first Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP). This Decision creates a comprehensive roadmap contributing to the the internal market for wireless technologies and services, particularly in line with the Europe 2020 initiative and the Digital Agenda for Europe. The Decision sets general principles and calls for concrete actions to meet the objectives of EU policies.
Vice President Kroes congratulated the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament on this major step forward to helping us to manage the future economy.
The RSPP covers all types of radio spectrum use that affect the internal market and sets general regulatory principles, policy objectives and priorities. The programme aims to enhance the efficiency and flexibility of spectrum use, as well as preserving and promoting competition. By supporting specific spectrum needs (such as for wireless broadband communications, transport, environment protection, Earth surface monitoring or research and space exploration), the RSPP objectives are rooted in the overall goals of the EU's Radio Spectrum Policy.
Based on the policy objectives as defined in the RSPP, the European Commission together with all Member States will also work on the following concrete actions:
Ensuring that at least 1200 MHz spectrum are identified to address increasing demand for wireless data traffic; and asssessing the need for additional harmonised spectrum bands;
Allowing spectrum trading throughout the EU in all harmonised bands where flexible use has already been introduced;
Making available sufficient harmonised spectrum for the development of the internal market in for wireless safety services and civil protection;
Fostering different modes of spectrum sharing in Europe, to ensure efficient use of spectrum and to increase spectrum access opportunities for wireless innovation;
Ensuring that the radio spectrum can be used to support a more efficient energy production and distribution in Europe so that wireless innovations contribute to a low-carbon society;
Finding appropriate spectrum for wireless microphones and cameras (PMSE); and
By mid 2013 at the latest defining the details for the EU's radio spectrum inventory - as well as for an adequate analysis of the efficiency of spectrum use in particular in the 400 MHz to 6 GHz range. This will form the basis, where appropriate, of further action to coordinate or harmonise specific bands.
In particular the Member States have to authorise the use of the following frequency bands which have been reallocated for high speed electronic communication services:
The harmonised bands 900/1800 MHz, 2.5-2.69 GHz, 3.4-3.8 GHz by the end of 2012
The 800 MHz band (the "digital dividend") by 1 January 2013, in particular to cover sparsely populated areas (except in case of individual derogations obtained before that date).
To identify stakeholder views on strategic issues for spectrum policy in the coming years, the European Parliament and the Commission co-organised the first EU Spectrum Summit on 22-23 March 2010 in Brussels (see agenda and discussion paper). The Summit recognised the importance of spectrum in supporting EU policy initiatives to foster economic growth and social inclusion, especially through developing wireless broadband, but also for developing broadcasting, smart energy grids and applications for public safety, among others.
The efficient use of spectrum was a key principle that met with unanimous support: in future this could be facilitated through effective and regular reviews of spectrum use. Another recurring concern was that economies of scale can only be created in Europe with EU co-ordination and, where necessary, harmonisation. While some diverging views were expressed, there was a clear acknowledgment that difficult decisions would have to be taken to reconcile competing needs and interests in using the scarce resource of spectrum.
A key focus of the summit was the digital dividend. There was substantial support for taking an ambitious and consistent approach to the 800 MHz band, while fostering development of advanced television services in other parts of the UHF band. In general it was felt that spectrum should be accessible to innovative services and technologies coming out of European research programmes, to increase the return on R&D investment while supporting EU industry and allowing EU citizens to benefit.
A video recording of the proceedings is available on the web page of the ITRE committee of the European Parliament. Vice President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for the Digital Agenda, addressed the participants on the theme Radio spectrum – why Europe needs effective co-ordination.
Following the Spectrum Summit, to develop the proposal for the first EU Radio Spectrum Policy Programme, the Commission conducted a public consultation in March-April 2010. Many stakeholders used this opportunity to send their responses.
In June 2010 the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG) provided its own opinion to the Commission to assist in the preparation of the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme. Based on a prior public consultation, the RSPG adopted its opinion on 9 June 2010.
On 20 September 2010, the Commission proposed to the European Parliament and Council the first Radio Spectrum Policy Programme. This outlines at strategic level how using spectrum can contribute to the most important political objectives of the European Union from 2011 to 2015. The proposal was part of a package of measures regarding broadband communications, because wireless broadband is essential to deliver the target of "broadband for all" by 2013, one of the key goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe.
The legislation on the regulatory framework for electronic communications, updated in 2009, invites the Commission to submit a multi-annual Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP). The general objective for the RSPP is stated in Article 8a(3) of the Framework Directive: "The Commission, taking utmost account of the opinion of the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG), established by Commission Decision 2002/622/EC of 26 July 2002 establishing a Radio Spectrum Policy Group, may submit legislative proposals to the European Parliament and the Council for establishing multiannual radio spectrum policy programmes. Such programmes shall set out the policy orientations and objectives for the strategic planning and harmonisation of the use of radio spectrum in accordance with the provisions of this Directive and the Specific Directives."
After a period of negotiations between the legislators, on 13 December 2011 the Council agreed a common position on a Decision establishing the RSPP. Subsequently, the European Parliament approved the draft Decision at its Plenary on 15 February 2012 for final adoption.