The objective of the study on Spectrum assignments in the EU was to assess the specific elements, processes and conditions under which radio spectrum, in particular for 5G usage including wireless broadband, should be authorised and assigned by Member States and how timely access to spectrum can contribute more fully to the general objectives set out by the EU regulatory framework (SMART 2016/0019).

The study has determined that both regulators and mobile operators would generally prefer to continue adopting the current approach to spectrum authorisation and assignment and that the current authorisation framework is generally fit for delivering current services. In contrast, industrial sectors (so-called 'verticals') favourably consider any licensing approach as long as their quality of service requirements can be satisfied and their long investment timescales can be supported. The grouping analysis established that overall, countries which practiced a group of investment friendly practices when assigning spectrum, namely low reserve prices; well-designed coverage objectives; and long licence lengths exhibited more positive market outcomes, such as wider network roll-out; better quality and choice of services; higher take-up of services and greater competition.

Nonetheless, the future scenario analysis clearly indicates that it is essential to ensure the use of a range of authorisation and assignment approaches to unlock some new use cases and to achieve the full benefits, whilst supporting Digital Single Market objectives. In addition, these benefits would be strengthened if a pan-EU approach to certain elements is taken. Stakeholders interested in rapid or relatively straightforward access to spectrum may lead the change to encourage the use of light licensing, concurrent allocations and shared (e.g. LSA) approaches.

The findings of the Study will provide additional elements in the context of the ongoing negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council on the Commission Proposal for a "European Electronic Communications Code" (EECC). The Study will be further exploited in the context of the implementation of the Commission 5G Action Plan.

The executive summary is also available in English, French and German.