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« GigaBeam Trials in Ireland | Main | Clearwire Launches in Belgium »

August 10, 2005

The Gloves Are On

By Nancy Gohring

The European Commission hopes to make a decision about the 2.5 GHz band in October: This band was initially set aside as a 3G expansion band to be distributed in 2008. But it’s prime spectrum and the WiMax camp is arguing that regulators should allow 2.5 GHz users to deploy whatever technology they like in the band. The 3G lobby, which is powerful, feels that they’ve essentially paid in advance for this spectrum by shelling out billions during the first 3G auction and they don’t want to see competition from operators that may have the chance to buy this spectrum for a lot less money. While regulators in Europe are generally starting to consider a more open policy of allowing any type of technology in any band, it’s going to be a tough transition. Apparently France and Finland are arguing against opening up the band to any technology. Other countries haven’t said where they stand.

If the European Commission decides to reserve the 2.5 GHz band for 3G only, it’s not the end of the world for WiMax. WiMax could be included into the 3G family of technologies as sort of a back door entry into the band, though that process would likely be very lengthy.

One significant problem with all of this bickering is that it doesn’t allow operators to plan for the future, a salient point offered by Caroline Gabriel at Rethink Research. If operators knew that they could deploy WiMax, they could build a business case for it and aggressively pursue the spectrum. The big operators tend to move slowly so they need a couple of years to get such a plan together. But by the time a decision is made about what technologies will be allowed in the band, we’ll be close to the 2008 distribution of the spectrum. It’s just an uncertainty that offers one more hurdle for operators.

Posted by nancyg at August 10, 2005 2:54 PM

Categories: Spectrum

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