On March 1, 2018, the European Commission, the EU Parliament, and the EU Council reached a preliminary agreement on parts of the forthcoming European Electronic Communications Code, related to spectrum policy. The agreement includes the availability of spectrum for 5G in the EU by 2020; a 20-year period of ‘investment predictability’ for spectrum licences; and enhanced coordination and peer review of planned radio spectrum assignment procedures.
Luca Schiavoni, Senior Analyst at Assembly comments:
"Thursday’s agreement obviously brings the EU one step closer to having a framework for 5G – a drum which policy makers and the industry have beaten hard in the last few weeks, particularly in Barcelona at MWC. However, there is little to cheer about, as once again the distance between different institutions has emerged, and compromises mean nearly everyone is unhappy.
The 20-year period for licences’ length is probably too little, too late, and is certainly seen as such by the industry, whose appetite was whetted by the EC through a promise of 25-year long permits in the initial proposal. Governments, on the other hand, tried to push for a 15-year period, as they have an interest in retain more control on the resource and its frequency of award.
Some stakeholders, such as ETNO, have already voiced their discontent, and they are likely to be joined by others. They very much have a point – progress in 5G deployment in other regions, such as the US, shows that investment is key, and requires a favourable regulatory environment. EU institutions maintain they want 5G commercially available by 2020, though it is currently unclear whether they will even be able to ensure the necessary spectrum awards will have taken place by that deadline."