An investigation into the future use of TV broadcast spectrum across the EU will be headed by former head of the WTO Pascal Lamy.
Digital Commissioner Neelie Kroes has given the group, made up of executives from Europe's major broadcasters, network operators, mobile companies and technology associations, six months to make proposals on how best to use the 470 to 790MHz UHF spectrum band in the coming decades.
The investigation has been prompted by the rapid growth in demand for spectrum driven by the explosion in the consumption of mobile data, along with changing habits of consumption of audiovisual content.
Kroes said: “Europe needs to use spectrum more effectively if we want to benefit from the latest TV and Internet developments. That's why we need a new consensus on how to use broadcast spectrum, and that’s why I made the coordination of broadband spectrum a central feature of our effort to build a telecoms single market.”
The group, which includes representatives from the BBC, Vodafone, Orange the GSM Association and Digital Europe, will deliver a final report by July 2014, which will be used to come up with a long-term strategic and regulatory policy on the future use of the entire band, including possibilities for sharing parts of the band.
Kroes added: “The TV-viewing habits of young people bear no resemblance to that of my generation. The rules need to catch-up in a way that delivers more and better television and more and better broadband. Current spectrum assignments won’t support consumer habits of the future – based on huge amounts of audiovisual consumption through broadband and IPTV.”
The group will look at how Europe will access and use audiovisual content and data in the medium to long-term and how the EU's regulatory strategy can complement these trends.
Lamy said: “I expect these discussions to be quite challenging. Nobody will get everything they want, but I am confident that, based on an open discussion and a willingness to engage at the strategic level, we can deliver a coherent vision for Europe.”