The purpose of this study, undertaken by Tech4i2 and Real Wireless for the European Commission, was to enable a better understanding of the use of harmonised licence-exempt frequency bands by different categories of radio equipment regulated under EU law in the range of 400 MHz – 6 GHz (SMART 2014/0012).

The results should in particular support the implementation of the Article 9 "Inventory" of the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP) by developing a reliable approximation approach to assess the medium and long-term spectrum usage densities in harmonised license-exempt frequency bands. In addition, the study was supposed to contribute to the establishment of a potential trans-Atlantic market of radio equipment using harmonised licence-exempt frequency bands. The study was undertaken in four stages, each of which provided the foundation for later stages in the study:

  1. Overview of radio equipment and relevant EC decisions;
  2. Forecasting equipment penetration and use in Europe 2015 to 2030;
  3. Spectrum use and congestion analysis;
  4. Europe and US licence-exempt spectrum comparison.


The study developed usage scenarios in four representative environments:  the Smart Home, the Smart Office, the Industrial Plant (factory, warehouse) and the transport hub (railway station).

The main study recommendations are as follows:

  • continue the evolution of EU spectrum regulation from application classes and specific technologies that considers benefits of generic SRD regulations, a flexible approach to the development of technical characteristics in order to enhance coexistence and sharing between different types of devices while supporting innovation;
  • undertake a review of the harmonisation with the US as there is potential scope for more harmonisation on the basis of development of FCC regulations on license-exempt spectrum;
  • continue to follow the penetration of devices using license-exempt spectrum across the markets in EU-28 plus EFTA countries in both "hot" and "cold" bands to assess trends in growth/decline of spectrum usage and occupation;
  • the study points out to frequency bands that are currently not harmonised under EU law, but would benefit from that status: the 915 – 921 MHz band (e.g. for RFID), the 1900 – 1920 MHz band (e.g. for SRDs in wireless industrial automation) and the 5.805 – 5.815 GHz (e.g. ITS and road toll collection) band. The 915 – 921 MHz and 1900 – 1920 MHz bands also have spectrum harmonisation potential with the US.

The executive summary (in English, French and German) and the final report are now also available in the EU Bookshop.

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