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EU says 3G on GSM now the law

Gives regulators six months to sort it

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The European Union claims to have cleared the path for an expansion of wireless broadband across Europe and saved the economy by officially mandating the opening up of the GSM band for new mobile services.

The move, detailed in the EU's Official Journal and therefore now law, will allow 3G phones to use GSM frequencies, effectively overhauling the now 22-year-old GSM Directive.

The change was actually put into practice back in July. Nevertheless, the publication of the latest Official Journal gives Brussels the chance to bang the drum again. It claims the change will enable Europe to keep its technological edge, save the industry capital costs of €1.6bn and speed the rollout of wireless broadband.

The latter, claims the EU, is "one of the drivers of the EU's economic recovery". Hmm. We think sorting out toxic assets and a busted banking system might be useful as well.

Still, the move is bound to create jobs in the telecoms regulatios and litigation areas.

According to the EU, "national administrations have now six months to transpose the Directive and to implement the Decision so that the GSM spectrum bands are effectively made available for 3G". That clumsy language illustrates the potential for things becoming lost in translation.

Local regulators will have to examine the competitive landscape in their balliwicks according to the EU's rules - which is fine as long as Brussels and local regulators are on the same page. The problem is the UK's regulator, for one, often takes a contrary view, and telcos will no doubt argue the toss over any divergence in views. ®

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