Commercialisation of the frequency spectrum' and better regulation' go hand in hand. This is the line the Finnish EU Presidency proposes to defend at an informal dinner on the management of the radio frequency spectrum in the EU due to be held on 10 December, on the eve of the Telecoms Council. Though few member states share this opinion, Finland will thus contribute to launching the debate on the revision of the regulatory framework for telecommunications, of which the frequency spectrum is one key element, a dossier that will be taken up by the German EU Presidency over the first half of 2007.

Discussions nevertheless promise to be difficult, given that radio frequencies are linked to national prerogatives. In addition to wireless telecommunications, a growing number of activities depend on this intangible infrastructure, such as aeronautics, maritime transport, defence, Earth observation and broadcasting services, etc. Few member states thus share the European Commission's objectives, outlined in its preliminary draft proposals for reform of the telecoms package' published on 29 June. Having identified a problem of spectrum congestion,' and having reported the phenomenon in a communication published in September 2005, the EU executive invites member states to harmonise management of the spectrum in the EU and to permit market players to negotiate frequency rights.

Finland's arguments are not far removed from the Commission's line. "The frequency spectrum is a critical resource for wireless communications, which are destined to become an essential vector for the European economy," according to a working paper which the Finnish Presidency plans to put before the member states. It adds that "at the same time, access to radio frequencies at European level is characterised by a panoply of national standards which, combined, make the development of these technologies difficult". The reality, according to Finland, is that "inefficient and reduced use of spectrum fragments" alters the functioning of the internal market for information and communication technologies (ICTs).


Like the EU executive, the Presidency therefore believes that regulation of the use of the frequency spectrum is...

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