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The European Union has been urged to repurpose the 700 Megahertz (MHz) spectrum band for wireless and mobile broadband.

Former European Commissioner for Trade Pascal Lamy believes this Ultra High Frequency (UHF) spectrum represents "prime real estate" in terms of use, capacity and reach, and will be needed to meet growing demand for 4G services - and potentially 5G - in the future.

At present, the 700MHz spectrum is used by terrestrial broadcasting networks and wireless microphones. But Mr Lamy thinks it should be handed over to mobile and wireless operators across Europe by 2020, give or take two years.

As a compromise, UHF spectrum below 700MHz would be safeguarded for use by broadcasters until 2030.

Mr Lamy has also called for a "stock-taking exercise" of UHF spectrum use to be performed by 2025. This would give the EU the opportunity to re-assess where it stands in another decade - a period which could see rapid advances in technology and consumer behaviour.

"For too long the broadband and broadcasting communities have been at loggerheads about the use of the UHF spectrum band," he stated.

"There have been many different views and perspectives. On the basis of discussions with the two sectors, I have put forward a single scheme that could provide a way forward for Europe to thrive in the digital century."

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes said Mr Lamy's report "lays down a path for creating capacity for fast wireless broadband everywhere".

It also makes provision to ensure "a stable and predictable future" for terrestrial broadcasting, she claimed.

"It would also ensure sustainable co-existence, as both sectors focus increasingly on advanced media services," Ms Kroes stated.

"This is essential to secure our changing digital future and hold our own in international negotiations."

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