A Simple Solution to Spectrum Crunch Could Generate up to €54 Billion for European Economy

By Plum Consulting, PRNE
Monday, June 13, 2011

BRUSSELS, June 14, 2011 -

A new study
published in the wake of the European Parliament Resolution shows
significant benefits could flow from use of 1.4 GHz band for a
supplemental mobile downlink for enhanced multi-media and broadband

There could be up to eight times as much
data being downloaded than is being uploaded in mobile networks.
And this imbalance will only grow, as rich mobile content is
increasingly made available and as consumer demand continues to
soar. A regulatory innovation, the use of the 1.4 GHz band as a
supplemental downlink band for mobile applications, is shown to
drastically ease capacity,
to enable considerably higher
user data rates, to substantially enhance the user experience

and to provide significant economic benefits.

A study by Plum Consulting, unveiled today at the 6th
Annual European Spectrum Management Conference
in Brussels,
shows that using the 1.4 GHz band (i.e. 1452-1492 MHz also called
1.5 GHz by the European Parliament or the L-band by the CEPT) for
terrestrial supplemental mobile downlink would:

  • generate a net present value for Europe of as much as €54
    billion over a 10 year period
  • substantially enhance user experience through faster
    download speeds, fostering content and access competition and
  • aid mobile broadbandroll-out by enabling a far
    greater number of users;
  • give Europe an early opportunity given the possibility
    for 1.4 GHz supplemental downlink deployment in the Middle East,
    Africa, Canada, as well as Central and South America.  

A full copy of the report and executive summary is available at

Phillipa Marks, Director at Plum Consulting noted that
the economic benefits may well be in excess of €50
for the European economy when using the 1.4 GHz
band for a supplemental downlink for the delivery of enhanced
mobile multimedia services

Ms Marks added that “it is increasingly important that we
find a solution to ease the spectrum crunch, as
three-quarters of mobile broadband traffic last year was estimated
to be multimedia
- and this will only grow. The 1.4GHz
band is the ideal solution, not just to help address the spectrum
crunch but as an important step forward in achieving the EU’s
Digital Agenda target of providing 30Mbps access to 100% of
European citizens by 2020

The independent study was conducted jointly for Ericsson and
Qualcomm Incorporated and the results vindicate both the European
Parliament’s recent Resolution in favour of harmonising 1.4 GHz for
wireless broadband services and the CEPT’s recent decision to
review and harmonise the future use of the band in Europe. Lasse
Wieweg, Director, Government and Industry relations at
Ericsson said that “the 1.4 GHz band can be the perfect
complement to a mobile operator’s existing frequency assets. A
supplemental downlink band, combining extended bandwidth and
favourable coverage properties, will be a precious resource in the
near future, given the significant rise of data traffic on mobile
broadband networks

Wassim Chourbaji, Senior Director for Government Affairs at
Qualcomm added that “while it might seem obvious to use
the 1.4 GHz band as supplemental downlink, this has only become
technologically possible with the development of HSPA+ and
LTE-Advanced standards. The technology exists, the spectrum exists
and the political will exists. However, the substantial social and
economic benefits derived from this use of 1.4 GHz can only
materialize if the band is harmonised in Europe and offers the
economies of scale identified in the Plum Consulting


There is currently a significant asymmetry of mobile
communications traffic, with up to eight times as much data
being downloaded than is being uploaded (see Plum Consulting
report). This due to the very rich content being made available,
ranging from videos, to apps and to books. However, current
spectrum allocations for 3G and 4G in Europe almost all come in
paired bands (i.e. one band for uploads and one band for
downloads). Finding an additional band that can be expressly used
for downloading data as supplement to the existing paired spectrum
bands will drastically easy capacity and increase wireless

The term 1.4 GHz band is used to mean the 40 MHz block at
specifically 1452-1492 MHz (it is also commonly called 1.5 GHz and
L-band in Europe). The use of 1.4 GHz for supplement downlink has
only recently become possible, through developments in technology
now included in the 3GPP HSPA+ standard and the soon to be
finalized LTE-Advanced standard, that are part of the main 3G and
4G mobile broadband roadmap.

The band is currently allocated for use by digital audio
broadcasting (DAB) services in most European countries- part of the
band is allocated to terrestrial networks and part is allocated to
satellite networks.  None of these services have developed in
the band.  Rather in all countries in Europe the satellite
part of the band is unused and this is also the case in the
terrestrial component in most countries.

On 11 May 2011, the European Parliament adopted a resolution by
Rapporteur Gunnar Hökmark (EPP, SE) and voted at first reading on
the EU’s Radio Spectrum Policy Programme (RSPP) for the
harmonisation of this band for wireless broadband services. The
European Parliament amendment reads “The Commission is invited
to take action, in cooperation with Member States, at the
appropriate levels to achieve further harmonisation and a more
efficient use of the 1.5 GHz band (1452-1492 MHz) […] for wireless
broadband services”.

On May 20th, the European Conference of Postal and
Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT, formed of 48 European
countries cooperating to regulate posts, radio spectrum and
communications networks, www.cept.org) set up a Project
Team, FM PT 50, to determine which future use(s) of the 1.4 GHz
band would be the most beneficial for Europe and harmonise the
spectrum accordingly.

For more information contact: Plum Consulting: Phillipa Marks, phillipa.marks at plumconsulting.co.uk, +44-207-047-1919. Ericsson: Minako Nakatsuma Olofzon, minako.nakatsuma.olofzon at ericsson.com, +46-10-714-3864. Qualcomm: Mathew Heim, mheim at quaclomm.com, +44-7879-406135

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