Europeans are suffering because EU member states are taking too long to award valuable spectrum needed for mobile broadband services, according to European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes.
In a statement released this week, Kroes said nearly half the EU’s member states have missed January 2013 deadlines set for the award of 800MHz spectrum.
Despite criticizing the laggards, the European Commission has “reluctantly” agreed to nine of the 14 requests for further postponement.
“We have agreed to temporary and limited 800MHz derogations for nine countries,” said Kroes. “This is a pragmatic and final concession. Every delay in releasing spectrum hurts our economy and frustrates citizens. That is why spectrum reform will be a centerpiece of the Commission’s September proposal for a single telecoms market.”
Kroes was referring to a recent speech she gave to the European Parliament in which she called on greater coordination between EU member states on spectrum awards and also said roaming charges would become a thing of the past in a single European telecoms market.
Authorities have agreed to postponement requests from Spain, Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Austria, Poland, Romania and Finland, but turned down applications from Slovakia and Slovenia – arguing that “delays were due to the organization of the authorization process and not to exceptional circumstances preventing the availability of the band”.
Meanwhile, it is still considering requests made by Greece, Latvia and the Czech Republic.
The European Commission’s statement says that one consequence of the delays is that phones considered to be essential devices by consumers are not fully functional in Europe.
“Phone manufacturers leave out the appropriate radio chips needed to connect in Europe because not enough countries have licensed the same spectrum on time,” it said.
Many of Europe’s 4G markets are now far behind those in the US and parts of Asia, where spectrum was awarded years ago and operators have made speedy progress on the launch of services.