Paris, 13rd July 2007
The radio spectrum is a highly valuable immaterial asset of the State. Its efficient use is of major concern for both French society and the economy. The Commission’s report on the immaterial economy states that the income generated by the use of radio spectrum is estimated at over €200 billion per year in Europe, and close to 2% of European GDP.
However, the radio resource is being used intensively and is becoming a scarce resource. Currently, the development of innovative technological solutions for the entire country is hampered by restricted access to the radio spectrum.
However, mobile electronic communications services are on the brink of experiencing the same development as fixed services in recent years with the development of ADSL, that is, an accelerated transition towards high speed data rates. Indeed, mobile access to high speed should naturally become an extension of fixed Internet offers in order to provide consumers, wherever they are in the country, with access continuity to their Internet services, whether at home, work or elsewhere.
Identifying new frequencies to develop innovative services
It is essential that we arm ourselves with the necessary means to allow this evolution to happen. So, additional frequency resources need to be identified, and in particular low frequencies, so that these services can be offered across the country during the next decade. Indeed, low frequencies present better propagation characteristics (range and penetration inside buildings) than high frequencies, which are unsuited for extended coverage of the country for high speed mobile services.
The historic opportunity of the digital dividend
In this context, the switch from analogue to digital television is a historic opportunity. Broadcasting a digital channel requires about six times fewer resources than a channel broadcast in analogue mode. So, digitising the analogue broadcasting offer will free up resources for new services in low bands. The frequencies freed in this way are known as the "digital dividend".
In this framework, ARCEP is launching a public consultation on the issues related to the new frequencies for access networks to electronic communications services. This public consultation is part of a global management and frequency resource identification strategy for innovative services that ARCEP is conducting and for which it has already conducted other consultations.
The first part of the consultation aims to identify the access strategies to the spectrum for mobile communications services in a context where high-speed mobile Internet access would be generalised over the next ten years and where there would be a specific need for low frequencies. The development and generalisation of high-speed mobile Internet access should represent the main need of the electronic communications sector for access to low frequencies.
In addition to this need, wireless access technologies also contribute to the development of fixed Internet access services across the entire country. The second part of the consultation seeks to quantify what wireless technologies have to offer to the development of these services.
The third part introduces a review of the identification work of additional frequency resources, focussing on those below 1 GHz, within the framework of French and European work on the digital dividend.
Finally, the fourth part aims to measure the industrial developments and service deployment projects in the frequencies of the digital dividend. It also seeks to understand the impact of these harmonisation works on industrial policy in France and Europe in the area of electronic communications.
Contributions to this consultation must be received by ARCEP before September 26th at 5:00 PM.
The consultation text is available (pdf - 347 Ko (pdf - 347 Ko) - )