The 700 MHz band will be made available for wireless broadband by 2020, enabling a shift to 5G mobile internet, under the draft rules voted by Parliament on Wednesday.

"A better coordination of the spectrum in the European Union would allow us to face up the increase of demand for connectivity”, said the rapporteur Patrizia Toia (S&D, IT). “We come up with uniform criteria for the access to this band, so that the high-speed universal connection is possible for everyone telecom operators and broadcasters.”

“Of course, the split up of the spectrum takes place at the national level for we will have a time table for the 700 MHz band and a long-term approach for the band above, citizens will also benefit of compensations for costs related to the switchover”, she concluded.

Using the 700MHz band for the internet would help create an efficient digital single market and shifting to 5G could enhance economic growth, enabling the provision of high-quality mobile services, such as eHealth and mHealth, or those to do with the internet of things. It could also enable the development of digital services in rural or remote areas. Finally, allocating this band should “facilitate new competition”, added MEPs.

Individual EU member states may extend the 30 June 2020 deadline for “duly justified reasons”, such as:

  • unresolved cross-border coordination issues,
  • technical migration of a large amount of the population to advanced broadcasting standards,
  • financial costs of transition exceeding the expected revenue, or
  • force majeure.

However, member states have until 30 June 2018 to publish their national plans and schedules, with detailed steps to be taken ahead of the 2020 deadline, drafted with the participation of “all relevant stakeholders.”

The provisional agreement was voted with 614 votes in favour, 44 against and 28 abstentions.

Procedure:  Ordinary legislative procedure