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Lift regulatory obstacles to UMTS900 in Europe, says UMTS Forum
Urgent review of GSM Directive will accelerate mobile broadband roll-out

06 March 2009, Ljubljana: The UMTS Forum has this week encouraged European member states, the European Parliament and European Commission to take prompt regulatory actions that will open the door to use of the 900 MHz spectrum band for UMTS/HSPA mobile broadband networks.

The UMTS Forum has backed an urgent review of the GSM Directive that will open up access to mobile broadband services for all European consumers.

“Our industry urgently needs a coherent framework across all Member States that will reduce regulatory uncertainties regarding mobile broadband deployment in Europe at 900 MHz”, said UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaimé at this week’s General Assembly meeting and Mobile Broadband Europe Leadership Seminar in Ljubljana.

“In the UMTS Forum we urge the European Council and European Parliament to reach a First Reading agreement on the review of the GSM Directive. This will allow the use of 900 MHz for UMTS as soon as possible and foster investments and coverage in mobile broadband in Europe.”

The first wave of UMTS900 commercial deployments has already started in a number of countries. Seven operators in Australia, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, and Thailand are already running commercial UMTS/HSPA networks in this band.

France and Italy have also published national decisions allowing the deployment of UMTS in the GSM900 frequency band in 2007. It is now expected that other regulators in Europe – plus regions such as Africa and Asia – will follow suit and progress UMTS900 deployment in the near future.

“A growing number of mobile operators are already deploying UMTS/HSPA services alongside their exiting GSM networks operating in the 900 MHz band”, noted Bienaimé.

“In today’s harsh economic climate, there’s a huge opportunity for other governments to follow suit and remove the obstacles to providing cost-effective mobile broadband coverage for subscribers everywhere.”
UMTS900: the complementary choice for delivering mobile broadband
The 900 MHz spectrum band – already used by many of the world’s GSM operators – presents an excellent complement to existing UMTS operations that use so-called ‘core’ bands in the 2GHz range.

The 900 MHz band (880-915 MHz / 925-960 MHz) has been identified by the ITU for IMT-2000. From a regulatory point of view, UMTS deployment in the 900 MHz band can accelerate provision of mobile broadband services to users in those sparsely populated and remote areas.

In 2006, CEPT-ECC (Electronic Communications Committee) designated the 900 MHz (and 1800 MHz) bands for the deployment of UMTS. Based on the decisions of individual administrations, mobile operators can thus decide when to deploy UMTS in GSM 900 MHz band in line with their business plans.
Thanks to its favourable radio propagation characteristics, the 900 MHz band allows operators to build out their UMTS/HSPA networks, requiring fewer base station sites to serve a scattered population. At 900 MHz, operators can offer comparable data rates and coverage using 60% fewer sites compared to a 2 GHz network build.

Furthermore, operators can re-use significant elements of their GSM infrastructure – including antennas and network management systems – when deploying UMTS900. This impacts positively on capex and opex, allowing operators to extend cost-effective coverage to more sparsely populated areas, whilst also providing improved in-building penetration in urban areas.

Technical studies by the UMTS Forum have also demonstrated that GSM and UMTS/HSPA networks can co-exist in the same frequency bands without technical problems such as interference.

The UMTS900 equipment ecosystem is flourishing. There is already a choice of more than 80 mobile terminals, giving consumers access to rich new mobile broadband services. In addition, many operators are now purchasing compatible terminal equipment, in advance of potentially rolling out their own UMTS900 networks. Similarly, an increasing number of vendors are now shipping multimode GSM+UMTS base stations that can be used as a ‘drop-in replacement’ at existing GSM cell sites.

Founded in 1996, the UMTS Forum is an international industry association that is committed to the success of Third Generation (3G) UMTS mobile systems and their Long Term Evolution. Bringing together players from across the mobile industry on a peer-to-peer basis, the UMTS Forum promotes a common vision of 3G/UMTS and its evolution, as well as its worldwide commercial success, and conducts studies and reports on key focus areas such as markets & trends, spectrum & regulation, impact of technologies & implementation issues, and key growth markets. Membership of the UMTS Forum is open to everybody with an interest in 3G/UMTS mobile – including fixed and mobile network operators, infrastructure vendors, terminal device manufacturers, regulators, media/content providers and developers of 3G/UMTS services and applications.

For more information:
Chris Solbé
UMTS Forum Press Office
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